An international team of paleontologists has discovered the fossilized remains of a new species of marine predator that lived in the Jurassic and was an ancestor of today’s crocodiles.
The discovery took place in the jurassic coast, in Dorset (United Kingdom). Researchers found part of the head, spine, and some extremities, making it the most complete specimen of its kind discovered to date.
This new specimen has been christened ‘Turnersuchus hingleyae‘. Which originated with those who discovered and donated the specimen to the Lyme Regis Museum: Paul Turner and Lizzie Hingley, who discovered the fossil in 2017. The ending “suchus” is the Latinized form of “soukhos”, crocodile in Greek.
Turnersuchus hingleyae is a member of the thalatosuchian species, which lived about 185 million years ago.
fins instead of legs
Although they resemble modern crocodiles, had fins instead of legs and a fin at the end of the tailIn addition, its long and thin muzzle is very similar to that of its descendants. This specimen is believed to have reached a length of two meters.
On the other hand, its habitat was different from that of today’s crocodiles, which are found preferably in fresh water, since these extinct predators populated the seas.
Unlike crocodiles, its ancestor lived exclusively in coastal marine habitats. Credit: Denis Doukhan/Pixabay.
Researchers they explained that members of the species are usually colloquially referred to as “sea crocodiles” or “sea crocodiles”, although they do not belong to the order “Crocodilia”, but are much more distantly related.
Similarly, the experts affirmed that the finding fills a gap in the fossil record and suggests that thalatosuchians, along with other crocodyliformesshould have originated at the end of the Triassic, some 15 million years further back in time than when Turnersuchus lived.
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Eric Wilberg, professor Stony Brook University in the United States and co-author of the research, indicated that they hope to find more thalatosuchians of the same age and older than ‘Turnersuchus’, under optimal conditions, to arrive at a better analysis of the species.
The results of the study have been published in the journal Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
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