It was 16 feet (4.8 meters) long and tipped the scales at 900 lbs. (408 kilograms). With a blunt snout and powerful bite, it ate turtles and battled monster snakes. Now this extinct dyrosaur, a type of crocodilian, which roamed an ancient rainforest a few million years after the dinosaurs died, has a scientific name.
It’s called Anthracosuchus balrogus after the fiery Balrog that lurked deep in the Middle-Earth mines of Moria in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Lord of the Rings.”
“Much like that giant beast, Anthracosuchus balrogus was [awakened] from deep within a mine after 60 million years trapped within the rocks of tropical South America,” study researcher Jonathan Bloch, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told Live Science.
Four specimens of the new species were unearthed in a layer of rock in the fossil-rich Cerrejón coal mine of northern Colombia, where scientists previously have found huge turtles with shells as thick as high-school textbooks and skeletons of the world’s largest snake, Titanoboa, a 48-foot-long (14.6 m) beast that recently starred in a Smithsonian Channel documentary.
A. balrogus is the third new species of ancient crocodilian found at Cerrejón, scientists say. (Another, Acherontisuchus guajiraensis, was described in the journal Palaeontology in 2011.)
The newly named croc belonged to an intrepid family known as the dyrosaurids.