Based on the size of the skull, Mr. Pol and his colleagues from the National University of La Plata, Argentina estimate that the creature was four meters long. They infer its body shape based on a computer program that analyzed the fossils and found that they most resemble the early crocodile branch that had flippers and a fish-like tail instead of four feet and a tail like modern crocodiles.
"This analysis revealed that the anatomical changes along the evolution of the Dakosaurus lineage were clearly the most drastic evolutionary change in the history of marine crocodiles. This places the 135-million-year-old Dakosaurus andiniensis not only as one of the most recent members of this family, but also as the most bizarre marine crocodile known today," he explained.
The National Geographic Society in Washington, which sponsored the research, says dakosaurs were only one of the monsters that cavorted in the world's oceans between 250 million and 65 million years ago. Back then shallow seas and a lack of significant marine predators created new opportunities for many reptiles that had first developed on land. They included such beasts as giant ichthyosaurs that might have reached 25 meters in length and plesiosaurs with seven-meter-long necks reminiscent of the fabled Loch Ness monster in Scotland.