Seeing the Last Living “Dinosaurs”: Sharks and Crocs


Dinosaurs may have stopped roaming the earth millions of years ago, but the progeny of their ancestors live on. Great white sharks and Nile crocodiles are two of the largest predators on the planet, and they can also trace back their family tree to before the time that dinosaurs began to dominate the world in the Triassic period more than 200 million years ago.

Prehistoric Sharks

The ancestors of modern sharks were able to survive all five known mass extinction events throughout the earth’s life. Early fossil records discovered in Siberia and Mongolia reveal shark-like marine predators that would have existed 420 million years ago, almost twice as old as the earliest dinosaurs.

Around 100 million years ago during the mid-Cretaceous arose the first sharks that we would be able to recognize as similar to the species we see today. They ranged far off from the shore, swimming fast and aggressively overtaking prey. By the late Cretaceous, lamnoid sharks roughly the size of a great white came about.

Megalodon was the most fearsome of the sharks, stretching up to 50 or even 65 feet long. At one time people thought the Megalodon was an ancestor to the great white, but now they suspect that the great white and the Megalodon could have cohabitated for as long as 10 million years. Staring into the eyes of a great white, you can almost see the savage history of their species as they patrolled the oceans since before man first walked the earth.

Prehistoric Crocodiles

Crocodiles are more directly related to dinosaurs. In fact, since crocs are members of the archosaur family along with birds, they could easily be considered some of the last living dinosaurs.

Like dinosaurs, Crocodilians are cold-blooded and featured thick dermal layers like armor. The order encompasses the family Crocodylidae, which includes proper crocodiles like the Nile crocodile. This family began in the very late Cretaceous period — over 65 million years ago.

Since then, scientists believe that not a whole lot has changed with the appearance of crocs and their scaly cousins. During the early to mid-Cretaceous before that time, Crocodilians had an incredible amount of variety. Their morphological variations included ocean crocs, herbivorous crocs and even a fast-moving predatorial croc that walked on two legs. Try getting that image out of your head!

Seeing the Living Dinos in Action

South Africa has a host of viewing opportunities for seeing great white sharks in action; some would say the best in the world. Cage diving and eco tours are available to find some of the densest great white populations on the planet located near Dyer Island, Gansbaai and Cape Town.

Since Nile crocodiles are present throughout Africa, spotting them on your African safari tour should not be hard at all. The wildebeest migration that crosses through the Mara River often presents spectacular and heart-stopping encounters between the two species. Crocs are also prevalent along the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Going that far is not that necessary, either, considering there are plentiful crocs hanging around Kruger and other places nearby South Africa.

Visit our African safari vacation packages page to find the crocodile safari or shark viewing tour that you would want to see most, and catch these living prehistoric monsters in action.

Meta desc: Great white sharks and Nile crocodiles are two of earth’s largest predators, and they can also trace back their family trees to before the time of dinosaurs more than 200 million years ago.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Take Dad on Safari for Father’s Day

take dad on safari for fathers day

Adventure awaits in South Africa, made possible by safari tours throughout the region. Taking your Dad on a safari vacation this Father’s Day will be a gift that he never forgets. There is no experience comparable to seeing majestic animals in their natural habitats with the gorgeous African landscape over the horizon. Even if your Dad is not exactly the outdoors type, South Africa boasts multiple resort destinations that you may enjoy together after spending the day enjoying the best that Africa has to offer. Take your Dad on a safari vacation — he deserves a spectacular trip.

Enjoy a Guided Tour

Many safari trips are conducted by professional guides who know the best areas to travel. This eliminates the stress of attempting to navigate through the terrain yourselves. Your Dad will be able to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

A lot of thought and effort goes into crafting the itineraries for guided safari tours. This insures that your vacation is everything you dreamed it would be. You will get the animals, the spectacular views — all without having to waste most of the day hunting for them. Your Dad will appreciate the stress free thrill of a guided safari tour through South Africa.

See Unusual Animals

South Africa has one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Traveling through a safari will offer you and your Dad the opportunity to spot some unusual and rare animals, many of which may not be in existence much longer. Give your Dad the opportunity to marvel at the incredible creations of nature, beyond the expected lions, elephants and hippopotamuses. The breathtaking Blue Crane and tiny Pickersgill’s Reed Frog are endangered creatures that safari goers may not have the opportunity to see in the future. A safari vacation is more than a gift; it is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Savor the Majestic Scenery

South Africa is breathtaking. It is filled with much more than deserts and barren land. You will see your Dad taken aback by the spectacular sight of Victoria Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls. The mountains, rivers, flowing grasslands and oceans will capture your Dad’s heart and make him fall in love with the majestic beauty of the continent. Traveling through a safari will allow you and your Dad the opportunity to see a variety of the South African landscape.

Experience a World Class Africa

South Africa has many outstanding resort destinations. After you have spent the day on safari, spend the evening relaxing in luxury and enjoying world class cuisine. Do not worry; sending your Dad on a safari for Father’s Day does not mean that you are taking away his opportunity to have a well-deserved break. On the contrary, this may be the most luxurious vacation he has ever experienced.

Taking your Dad on an African safari this Father’s Day will provide him with the experience of a lifetime. He will never forget the experience of visiting South Africa, and neither will you. For more information, visit our African Safari Tours page.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa