Deinosuchus rugosus Given a New Scientific Name–D. Schwimmeri

My wife took a geology class 40 years ago at Columbus State University, and it was taught by David Schwimmer who now has the honor of having an extinct species of crocodylian named after him.  The paleontologists who named the species after him consider it a new species (or species novum), but it is really not a species new to science.  The first scientist to name the species gave it the scientific name Deinosuchus rugosus.  However, the type specimen used to name the species is not considered diagnostic as it could represent any of the 3 known species of Deinosuchus.  So they used other more complete specimens to describe the anatomy of the species, and they decided to give it the scientific name D. schwimmeri after David Schwimmer who published a book about Deinosuchus during 2002.

Species named after Columbus State professor David Schwimmer | Columbus  Ledger-Enquirer

David Schwimmer of Columbus State University, my wife’s college geology professor.  He wrote a book about Deinosuchus, a giant extinct alligatoroid.  Deinosuchus rugosus has been renamed in his honor as D. schwimmeri.

Feces, Bite Marks Flesh Out Giant Dino-Eating Crocs

Deinosuchus preyed on tyrannosaurs and other dinosaurs.

Fossil evidence suggests there were 3 species of Deinosuchus living in North America during the late Cretaceous from ~80 million years BP-~73 million years BP.  The North American continent was split into 3 land masses by the Western Interior Sea then.  D. schwimmeri is the species that lived on the eastern part of North America, and D. riograndis lived on the western part.  D. hatcheri, a poorly known species, also lived on the western part.  D. riograndis tended to grow larger than D. schwimmeri.  All species of Deinosuchus were 36 foot long 12,000 pound monsters that ate Tyrannosaurus rex for breakfast.  Fossil specimens of Deinosuchus have been found in Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and Mexico.  Scientists aren’t sure how Deinosuchus came to live on both sides of the Western Interior Sea.  They likely were saltwater tolerant and perhaps island-hopped from 1 side to the other.  Alternatively, when the Western Interior Sea flooded the Great Plains, the 2 founding populations were separated.

Deinosuchus is considered an alligatoroid or in other words they are thought to have been more closely related to alligators than crocodiles.  They were not ancestral to modern alligators.  Instead they were related to the direct ancestor of modern day alligators.


Gossette, A; and C. Bracho

“A Systematic Review of the Giant Alligatoroids Deinosuchus from the Cretaceous of North America and its Implications for the Relationships at the Root of Crocodylia”

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 40 (1) 2020

Schwimmer, David

King of the Crocodylians: The Paleobiology of Deinosuchus

Indiana University Press 2002




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