Temporal range: Eocene - Holocene, 56–0.01Ma
|Life restoration of a Mekosuchus inexpectatus|
Willis, Molnar & Scanlon, 1993
Balouet & Buffetaut, 1987
Mekosuchinae was a subfamily of crocodiles from Australia and the South Pacific that have now become extinct. They first appear in the fossil record in the Eocene in Australia, and survived until the Pleistocene in Australia and until the arrival of humans in the Pacific islands of Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. There is however disagreement on whether or not Mekosuchinae is a subfamily within Crocodylidae, or a distinct family, Mekosuchidae, on its own within the superfamily Crocodyloidea.
Mekosuchine crocodiles were a diverse group. One of the last species, from Holocene New Caledonia, called Mekosuchus inexpectatus may have been arboreal. The early Miocene species, Harpacochampsa camfieldensis, may have resembled a false gharial. Another mekosuchine fossil, currently undescribed, has been found in Miocene deposits from New Zealand. One genus, Mekosuchus, managed to spread to the islands of the Pacific; it is believed to have island-hopped across the Coral Sea, moving first to a now submerged island known as Greater Chesterfield Island, then New Caledonia and onwards.
Mekosuchines became extinct in Australia after the arrival of crocodiles from the genus Crocodylus, today represented by the Saltwater Crocodile. The group survived on Vanuatu and New Caledonia until the arrival of people, who are presumed to have driven them to extinction.
- Naish, Darren (13 May 2009). "The small, recently extinct, island-dwelling crocodilians of the south Pacific". Tetrapod Zoology. ScienceBlogs. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
- Mead, J. I.; Steadman, D. W.; Bedford, S. H.; Bell, C. J.; Spriggs, M. (August 2002). "New extinct mekosuchine crocodile from Vanuatu, South Pacific". In Guyer, C. Copeia 3 (3): 632–641. doi:10.1643/0045-8511(2002)002[0632:NEMCFV]2.0.CO;2.