Temporal range: Miocene
Giant caiman skull
Photo of skull fossil of Purussaurus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Alligatoridae
Genus: Purussaurus
Type species
Purussaurus brasilensis

Purussaurus (meaning "Purus lizard") an extinct genus of crocodilian that was endemic to central South America during the the Miocene epoch, 8 million years ago, is one of the largest known giant crocodylomorphs, perhaps even surpassing Sarcosuchus in size. Like most of the other known crocodilian/crocodylomorph species, Purussaurus would have easily been capable of tackling large prey. Purussaurus is also noted by its sheer; immense bite force and size.


As the monster caiman of the Miocene, Purussaurus had a very stout, robust head that included large, sharp teeth suited for gripping and holding onto struggling prey. This giant is known from skull material found in throughout north-central South America. The skull material, and fossils suggest that this monster bit down with an estimated force similar to that of Sarcosuchus, perforating muscle and bone, and shattering internal structures. Much like today's crocodilian ambush predators, its thought that the Purussaurus hunted while skulking around in lakes, swamps, ponds, and waited for prey to come and take a drink. It might've used the twist and roll method that many crocs and alligators use today, often twisting bones and organs into a mess, killing the prey subject in a matter of seconds.


Based on the largest complete skull, Purussaurus was estimated to be at 10.3 meters (34 feet) with a total estimated mass of 5.69 tons. A more optimistic estimate in 2014 yields a total length of 12.5 meters (41 feet) with a weight of 9.3 tons. These proportions were consulted with negation however; and it is more likely Purussaurus would only reach 10.9 meters (36 feet) with a weight of 6.2 tons.A mandible described in 1967 from Juruá River has a length of 175 cm. Based on this specimen maximum sizes were 'superficially' estimated between 11 - 13 meters (36 - 43 feet) in length.As only skulls have been found, the exact size remains unknown, although rib structures and the rest of the body has been thought to be a similar upscaled structure of today's caimans, and crocodilians.

Relation with other giant crocodiles[]

Purussaurus is one of the last of the giant, extinct crocodiles. As a large caiman, its skull is much more robust than the other giant crocodiles. Though other crocodilians have obtained greater or equal sizes, as they are Deinosuchus, Sarcosuchus, Gryposuchus, Mourasuchus, Rhamphosuchus, and Stomatosuchus, all being vicious predators armed with rampaging maws.


220px-Purussaurus BW

Restoration of Purussaurus brasiliensis

Brazilian P. brasiliensis is associated with sharks, rays, freshwater teleosts, lungfish, turtles including Stupendemys, crocodilians including Charactosuchus, Gryposuchus, and Mourasuchus, Anhinga birds, and mammals including sloths, bats, rodents, the primate Stirtonia, and river dolphins. River, floodplain, and lake environments were present. Marine and freshwater fish, turtles, crocodilians, and terrestrial and aquatic mammals are associated with Venezuelan P. mirandai. Its environment is described as tropical and coastal. The earlier Colombian P. neivensis lived alongside a massive variety of fauna, including astrapotheres like Granastrapotherium and Xenastrapotherium, The early species of Mourasuchus and Gryposuchus, and the terrestrial crocodyliform Langstonia. This fauna dates from 13 million years ago, in the Laventan stage of the Late Miocene.[1] The Purussaurus was likely the dominant Apex Predator of its environment, a continuous thought.

In popular culture[]

  • Purussaurus appeared in the documentary series Paleoworld where it was greatly oversized.
  • Purussaurus also appears in the mobile game Jurassic World Alive, being a dinosaur that also has a Gen 2 version. It can be fused to create the bizarre four-legged monstrous hybrid, Purrolyth.
  • Purussaurus appears in the ROBLOX game, Dinosaur Simulator, as a very expensive creature but nearing Megalodon (the shark) in size.