• Artistic representation of Gunggamarandu maunala. (Eleanor Pease)Source: Eleanor Pease
The 'River Boss' was discovered in south-east Queensland and is the first species of it's kind ever recorded in the country.
Shahni Wellington

14 Jun 2021 - 2:14 PM  UPDATED 14 Jun 2021 - 2:14 PM

Recent analysis of a partial crocodile skull, belonging to the newly-named 'Gunggamarandu maunala,' has solved a world-wide mystery.

Researchers from the University of Queensland have finally confirmed that the remains, unearthed in south-east Queensland in the nineteenth century, belonged to a crocodile species never before found in Australia.  

The cold case has finally been solved with the pre-historic fossil dated to between two million and five million-years-old. 

It's believed that Gunggamarandu roamed the waterways of Darling Downs, on the traditional lands of various clans of the Wakka Wakka language speakers; the Jagera, Barunggam, Giabal, Keinjan and Jarowair peoples.

The name incorporates words from the local languages. The genus name, Gunggamarandu, means ‘river boss’, while the species name, maunala, means ‘hole head’.

University of Queensland PhD candidate, Jorgo Ristevski, said the skull fragments are a piece of a much bigger puzzle.

“This is one of the largest crocs to have ever inhabited Australia,” Mr Ristevski said in a statement.

“We estimate the skull would have been at least 80 centimetres long, and based on comparisons with living crocs, this indicates a total body length of around seven metres."


Significant discovery

The identification of River Boss' species answers another longstanding question of paleontology.  

With the exception of Antarctica, Australia was the only other continent without fossil evidence of tomistomines - a crocodylian subfamily that lives in fresh water and is known for its long snout and sharp teeth.

"With the discovery of Gunggamarandu we can add Australia to the ‘once inhabited by tomistomines’ list,” Mr Ristevski said.

There is currently only one living species of tomistomine, Tomistoma schlegelii, which is restricted to the Malay Peninsula and parts of Indonesia.

Based on the skull size, researches suggest Gunggamarandu maunala was on par with the largest Indo-Pacific crocs ever recorded.

Similarly, another pre-historic crocodile was discovered in the Darling Downs area in December last year. 

Dubbed 'The Swamp King,' the five-metre Paludirex Vincenti croc may have had to compete with the 'River Boss'.

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