The ancestor of modern crocodiles lived 30 million years earlier than expected.
Paleontologists from the University of New England at Armidale discovered a new species of crocodiles that lived on Earth 100 million years ago and hunted small dinosaurs. According to Naked science, the finding indicates that the ancestor of modern crocodiles lived on Earth 30 million years earlier than previously thought.
The crocodile was named Isisfordia molnari in honor of the Australian scientist Ralph Molnar. It was discovered after studying fossils that were found 100 and 70 years ago in an opal deposit in Lightning Ridge. The first remains in Lightning Ridge were discovered and transferred to the Australian Museum in Sydney in 1917. However, then found parts of the skeleton and the knowledge of scientists was not enough to draw the right conclusions about the origin of the crocodile and accurately determine the species.
In the 2000s, parts of the skull of the Isisfordia molnari were found in a piece of opal, and later the Australian Museum also acquired them. In the course of a new study, scientists decided to conduct a comparative analysis of these remains with Isisfordia duncani crocodile fossils, found in 2006 near Queensland. As a result, the researchers derived a number of coincidences and differences in the structure of the skeletons. It turned out to be different types of the same genus of crocodiles – Isisfordia.
The crocodile lived on Earth 100 million years ago, that is, it is one of the oldest known ancestors of modern crocodiles. The body length of the new species reached one and a half to two meters. An analysis of his jaw showed that he hunted small dinosaurs, such as the Weewarrasaurus, which he waited in ambush.