We all know the dinosaurs and their legendary prehistoric reign, but what about the ancient crocodilian behemoths that lived beside them and ate them as snacks? Five ancient crocs, including one with teeth like boar tusks and another with a snout like a ducks bill, surface in the Sahara. The five fossil crocs, nicknamed BoarCroc, RatCroc, Pancake Croc, DuckCroc and DogCroc (three of them newly named species), are the bizarre remains of creatures that inhabited the southern land mass known as Gondwana some 100 million years ago, swimming and galloping across present-day Niger and Morocco when broad rivers coursed over lush plains and dinosaurs ruled. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno and his team unearth the strange crocs in a series of expeditions beginning in 2000 in the Sahara. Many of the fossils are found lying on the surface of a remote, windswept stretch of rock and dunes.
While dinosaurs may have been some of the mightiest creatures ever to have walked the earth, they also could have been among the most bizarre. With extreme, exaggerated body parts, some predators were loaded with outlandish or disproportionately sized appendages. Join world-renowned paleontologists and travel the globe to unearth some of the lesser-known but most surprising members of the dinosaur family: Mamenchisaurus, whose neck alone was longer than the rest of its body; Chasmosaurus, adorned with a fashionable crown of frilly spikes to attract the eyes of potential suitors; Spinosaurus, with massive extensions from its vertebrae that could have supported a sail or a hump; and Parasaurolophus, whose tube-like head crest may look odd to us, but was a mating magnet back in the day. Why did these animals ever adopt such strange appendages? What was their purpose—and why did these evolutionary changes die out?