Monday, 16 September 2019

Mysterious Jurassic crocodile identified 250 years after fossil find


Date: September 12, 2019
Source: University of Edinburgh

A prehistoric crocodile that lived around 180 million years ago has been identified -- almost 250 years after the discovery of it fossil remains.

A fossil skull found in a Bavarian town in the 1770s has been recognised as the now-extinct species Mystriosaurus laurillardi, which lived in tropical waters during the Jurassic Period.

For the past 60 years, it was thought the animal was part of a similar species, known as Steneosaurus bollensis, which existed around the same time, researchers say.

Palaeontologists identified the animal by analysing fossils unearthed in the UK and Germany.

The team, which included scientists from the University of Edinburgh, also revealed that another skull, discovered in Yorkshire in the 1800s, belongs to Mystriosaurus laurillardi.

The marine predator -- which was more than four metres in length -- had a long snout and pointed teeth, and preyed on fish, the team says. It lived in warm seas alongside other animals including ammonites and large marine reptiles, called ichthyosaurs.

The discovery of fossils in present-day Germany and the UK shows that the species could easily swim between islands, much like modern saltwater crocodiles, researchers say.

The study, led by Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld in Germany, is published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, It was supported by the Palaeontographical Society, Leverhulme Trust and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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