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Newly Discovered Crocodile Fossils

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PostPosted: 11-11-2005 11:11    Post subject: Newly Discovered Crocodile Fossils Reply with quote

Published online: 10 November 2005;
| doi:10.1038/news051107-11

Short-snouted snapper surprises fossil hunters
This unusual looking crocodile would have had a hard time catching fish.
Tom Simonite

Crocodiles are easily recognized by their long, toothsome snouts. But fossil hunters in Patagonia have found one that has a short, blunt nose and relatively few teeth. Experts say that its odd shape probably means it had a different diet to the fishy one favoured by other crocs, past and present.

A surprisingly short skull and two stumpy lower jaws were uncovered in Patagonia by Zulma Gasparini, a palaeontologist at Argentina's Museo de La Plata, and her colleagues. Features of the skull revealed that the new fossils were of Dakosaurus andiniensis, a marine crocodile known from only a few fragments found in Argentina. They show that D. andiniensis, which menaced the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean some 160 million years ago, had a bullet-shaped head that has surprised experts.

"Other vertebrate palaeontologists have been asking us whether this really is a crocodile," says Diego Pol, at Ohio State University, one of the two co-authors of the paper published online by Science1.

Other vertebrate paleontologists have been asking us 'is this really a crocodile?'

Diego Pol
Ohio State UniversityDiego Pol

Catch me if you can

Although some extinct terrestrial crocodiles were known to have short heads, until now all known marine crocodiles had long snouts. The skull also has a small number of large, serrated teeth, rather than the usual quota of many small, pointed ones.


Palaeontologists think that, like modern crocodiles, extinct marine forms swept their long, shallow jaws sideways to grab their slippery prey of fish or squid. D. andiniensis's stumpy head was probably not hydrodynamic enough to pull this off successfully.

"The big question is: what did they eat?," says Eric Buffetaut, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris. He says D. andiniensis's large serrated teeth are better suited to cutting chunks off bigger prey than to grabbing whole fish. "It suggests they may have fed on other marine reptiles or large fish," he says, "but the only way to be sure is to find a fossil complete with stomach contents."

Gasparini Z., et al. Science online ahead of print, doi: 10.1126/science.1120803 (2005).

Edir to amend title.
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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 20-11-2009 14:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

New fossils reveal a world full of crocodiles

New fossils unearthed in what is now the Sahara desert reveal a once-swampy...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New fossils unearthed in what is now the Sahara desert reveal a once-swampy world

divided up among a half-dozen species of unusual and perhaps intelligent crocodiles, researchers reported on Thursday.

They have given some of the new species snappy names -- BoarCroc, RatCroc, DogCroc, DuckCroc and PancakeCroc -- but say their findings help build an understanding of how crocodilians were and remain such a successful life form.

They lived during the Cretaceous period 145 million to 65 million years ago, when the continents were closer together and the world warmer and wetter than it is now.

"We were surprised to find so many species from the same time in the same place," said paleontologist Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal who worked on the study.

"Each of the crocs apparently had different diets, different behaviors. It appears they had divided up the ecosystem, each species taking advantage of it in its own way."

Larsson and Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago, funded by National Geographic, studied the jaws, teeth and what few bones they had of the crocodiles. They also did CT scans, which are computer-enhanced x-rays, to see inside the skulls.

Two of the species, DogCroc and DuckCroc, had brains that looked different from those of modern crocodiles.

"They may have had slightly more sophisticated brain function than living crocs because active hunting on land usually requires more brain power than merely waiting for prey to show up," Larsson said in a statement.

RatCroc, a new species formally named Araripesuchus rattoides, was found in Morocco and would have used its buck-toothed lower jaw to grub for food.

PancakeCroc, known scientifically as Laganosuchus thaumastos, was 20 feet long with a big, flat head.

DuckCroc represents new fossils found in Niger from a previously known species called Anatosuchus minor. It would have eaten grubs and frogs with its broad snout.

The more ferocious BoarCroc was also 20 feet long but ran upright and had a jaw built for ramming, with three pairs of knife-like teeth.

Some walked upright with their legs under the body like a land mammal instead of sprawled out to the sides, bellies touching the ground.

"Their amphibious talents in the past may be the key to understanding how they flourished in, and ultimately survived, the dinosaur era," Sereno wrote in a separate article for National Geographic.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)
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PostPosted: 05-08-2010 12:47    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice kitty...


Ancient 'cat-like' crocodile had bite like a mammal

By Katia Moskvitch Science reporter, BBC News
Pakasuchus kapilimai, artist's drawing Long ago, crocodile-like creatures might have hunted dragonflies

Palaeontologists working in Tanzania have unearthed fossils of a tiny crocodile-like creature with teeth resembling those of mammals.

The animal, Pakasuchus kapilimai, lived between 144 and 65 million years ago - during the Cretaceous - in what is now sub-Saharan Africa.

Scientists say the find shows that crocs were once more diverse than they are today.

The team reports its discovery in the journal Nature.

Paka means "cat" in Kiswahili, Tanzania's official language, and refers to the reptile's short, low skull with slicing, molar-like teeth.

Patrick O'Connor, associate professor of anatomy at the Ohio University College of osteopathic medicine, led an international team of researchers.

X-ray computed tomography gave a 3D view of the crocodilian's unusual bite

He said the new animal was a lot smaller than its modern relatives, adding that "its head would fit in the palm of your hand".

It also looked quite different from modern "crocodilians" - the group which includes alligators and crocodiles, he added.

"At first glance, this croc is trying very hard to be a mammal," said Professor O'Connor.

"If you only looked at the teeth, you wouldn't think this was a crocodile. You would wonder what kind of strange mammal or mammal-like reptile it is."
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

At first glance, this croc is trying very hard to be a mammal”

End Quote Patrick O'Connor Ohio University

The scientists used X-ray computed tomography to analyse the creature's skull and jaw.

The digital images revealed that this reptile possessed dental features that had previously only been thought to exist in mammals, such as teeth with shearing edges used to process food.

According to co-author Nancy Stevens, also at Ohio University, the ancient reptile "occupied a dramatically different feeding niche than do modern crocodilians".

Dr Stevens explained that the tiny crocodile was able to bite and swallow just like mammals.

Typically, crocodiles have simple, conical teeth that serve to catch and tear prey.

Dr O'Connor and his colleagues classified Pakasuchus within an extinct crocodile group, the notosuchians, which lived sometime during the Cretaceous period.

At this time, the Earth was very different from today - a single landmass called Pangaea was in the process of dividing into smaller continents, including Laurasia in the north and Gondwanaland in the south.

"The presence of morphologically bizarre and highly specialised notosuchian crocodyliforms (crocodilians) like Pakasuchus in the southern landmasses, along with an apparently low diversity of mammals in the same areas, has potentially profound ecological implications," said co-author Joseph Sertich of Stony Brook University, US.

"This entire group of crocodiles deviates radically from the 'typical' crocodile, most notably in their bizarre dentition, demonstrating a diversification not seen in the Northern Hemisphere during this time interval."

Besides having strange teeth, it also had an extremely flexible backbone.

Scientists think the animal lived mostly on land and not in the water, probably hunting insects and other small animals to survive.
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PostPosted: 05-05-2012 22:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

The largest known true crocodile identified
May 5th, 2012 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

Crocodile. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

A crocodile large enough to swallow humans once lived in East Africa, according to a University of Iowa researcher.

"It’s the largest known true crocodile,” says Christopher Brochu, associate professor of geoscience. “It may have exceeded 27 feet in length. By comparison, the largest recorded Nile crocodile was less than 21 feet, and most are much smaller.”

Brochu’s paper on the discovery of a new crocodile species was just published in the May 3 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The new species lived between 2 and 4 million years ago in Kenya. It resembled its living cousin, the Nile crocodile, but was more massive.

He recognized the new species from fossils that he examined three years ago at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi. Some were found at sites known for important human fossil discoveries. “It lived alongside our ancestors, and it probably ate them,” Brochu says. He explains that although the fossils contain no evidence of human/reptile encounters, crocodiles generally eat whatever they can swallow, and humans of that time period would have stood no more than four feet tall.

"We don’t actually have fossil human remains with croc bites, but the crocs were bigger than today’s crocodiles, and we were smaller, so there probably wasn’t much biting involved,” Brochu says.

He adds that there likely would have been ample opportunity for humans to encounter crocs. That’s because early man, along with other animals, would have had to seek water at rivers and lakes where crocodiles lie in wait.
Regarding the name he gave to the new species, Brochu said there was never a doubt.

The crocodile Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni is named after John Thorbjarnarson, famed crocodile expert and Brochu’s colleague who died of malaria while in the field several years ago.

“He was a giant in the field, so it only made sense to name a giant after him,” Brochu says. “I certainly miss him, and I needed to honor him in some way. I couldn’t not do it.”

Among the skills needed for one to discover a new species of crocodile is, apparently, a keen eye.

Not that the fossilized crocodile head is small—it took four men to lift it. But other experts had seen the fossil without realizing it was a new species. Brochu points out that the Nairobi collection is “beautiful” and contains many fossils that have been incompletely studied. “So many discoveries could yet be made,” he says.

In fact, this isn’t the first time Brochu has made a discovery involving fossils from eastern Africa. In 2010, he published a paper on his finding a man-eating horned crocodile from Tanzania named Crocodylus anthropophagus—a crocodile related to his most recent discovery.

Brochu says Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni is not directly related to the present-day Nile crocodile. This suggests that the Nile crocodile is a fairly young species and not an ancient “living fossil,” as many people believe. “We really don’t know where the Nile crocodile came from,” Brochu says, “but it only appears after some of these prehistoric giants died out.”

Provided by University of Iowa
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PostPosted: 11-03-2014 15:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skull fragments reveal new ancient crocodile species

Illustration of the Koumpiodontosuchus aprosdokiti

The newly discovered crocodile species was similar to those living today

Two fossilised skull fragments from a 2ft (60cm) crocodile found on the Isle of Wight point to the discovery of a new ancient species, a study has found.

The pieces - a snout and back part of the skull - were found by different private collectors three months apart.

Experts at the Dinosaur Isle museum near Sandown found the 126 million-year-old fragments "fitted together perfectly to make a complete skull".

The species has been named Koumpiodontosuchus aprosdokiti.

The name - meaning "unexpected button-toothed crocodile" - was given by University of Portsmouth palaeontologist Dr Steve Sweetman, who has published a paper on the discovery in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

Continue reading the main story
Cretaceous period

The Cretaceous period began 142 million years ago
With sea levels at their highest, much of what we now know as dry land - including southern England and the US Midwest - was under water
Theropod dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor and Spinosaurus were the top predators
Ended with the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction, famed for the death of the dinosaurs
Meet the Cretaceous period killer no bigger than a turkey
The first piece, the skull, was found on a beach near Sandown in March 2011 by Diane Trevarthen who was on a fossil-hunting holiday with her family.

She took it to the museum where staff thought it might belong to a large Cretaceous crocodile baby.

Three months later, Austin and Finley Nathan found the snout while fossil-hunting on their holiday.

When museum staff saw their find, they recalled seeing the other piece and asked Ms Trevarthen to bring it back.

Both collectors donated their specimens to the museum.

A figure from the journal paper showing pictures and diagrams of the skull
The bone structure at the back of the palate of the skull is different to other ancient species
Dr Sweetman said: "Both parts of this wonderful little skull are in good condition, which is most unusual when you consider that crashing waves usually batter and blunt the edges of fossils like this within days or even hours of them being washed onto the beach.

"Both parts must therefore have been found very soon after they were released from the mud and debris originally laid down on a dinosaur-trampled river floodplain around 126 million years ago.

"The sheer serendipity of this discovery is quite bizarre.

"Finding the two parts is in itself remarkable. That they should be found three months apart by different collectors and taken to the museum where the same members of staff were on duty and therefore able to recall the first specimen defies belief."

Dr Steve Sweetman on the beach where the fossils were found
Dr Steve Sweetman examined the fragments found on the beach near Sandown in 2011
When he first saw it Dr Sweetman thought the skull belonged to a Bernissartia fagesii crocodile, known from skeletons of a similar age discovered in Belgium and Spain.

"I was convinced it was a Bernissartia skull because of its small size - the fully grown animal was only a little over two feet long from nose to tail - but particularly because of its button-shaped teeth, which are unique among crocodyliforms.

"They were used to crush mollusc shells and other invertebrates with tough outer coatings."

But after the skull had been cleaned, Dr Sweetman could see it had significant differences in the arrangement of bones.

"The location of the hole in the mouth, where the airway from the nose opens, was surrounded by bones at the very back of the palate.

"This tells us that the discovery is not only a new species but also a new genus of ancient croc closely related to, but subtly different to, those alive today."
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PostPosted: 28-05-2014 21:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fossilised crocodile tooth 'largest of its kind in UK'

The fossilised tooth of the Dakosaurus maximus was discovered off Chesil Beach in Dorset and is now housed at the Natural History Museum in London

The fossilised tooth of a prehistoric crocodile has been recorded as the largest of its kind found in the UK.

The 2in (5.5cm) tooth was dredged from the seabed near Chesil Beach, Dorset.

It belonged to an ancient relative of modern crocodiles, known as Dakosaurus maximus.

Researchers from the the University of Edinburgh and curators from the Natural History Museum identified it after it was bought at an online auction by a fossil collector about a year ago.

Artist's impression of a Dakosaurus maximus
The shape of its skull and teeth suggests it ate similar prey to killer whales
The tooth, which has a broken tip, is now in the fossil collection of the London-based museum.

'Exceptionally dangerous'
Dakosaurus maximus grew to about 4.5m (15ft) in length and swam in the shallow seas of Europe 152 million years ago, according to the team's research published in the scientific journal Historical Biology.

The shape of its skull and teeth suggest it ate similar prey to killer whales, using its broad, short jaws to swallow fish whole and to bite chunks from larger prey.

Dr Mark Young, from the university's school of biological sciences, said: "Given its size, Dakosaurus had very large teeth.

"However, it wasn't the top marine predator of its time, and would have swum alongside other larger marine reptiles, making the shallow seas of the Late Jurassic period exceptionally dangerous."
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