|A. balrogus with the Titanoba; Credit: University of Florida|
Named after Tolkien’s Balrog, which lived deep within the Mines of Moria, Anthracosuchus balrogus “was from deep within a mine after 60 million years trapped within the rocks of tropical South America,” according to researcher Jonathan Bloch, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
A. balrogus is the third new species of crocodile found in the Cerrejon mines of Colombia, which also housed the remains of the 58-ft long Titanoboa snake and turtles with super-thick shells. A. balrogus is thought to have originated in Africa before swimming across the Atlantic Ocean to South America some 75 million years ago. They even managed to survive the mass extinction event, which came 10 million years later and killed off the dinosaurs.