Science & Technology

A Mysterious Jurassic Crocodile Fossil Was Found 250 Years Ago – Now They Finally Have Answers

Life reconstruction of Mystriosaurus. Credit score: Julia Beier

A prehistoric crocodile that lived round 180 million years in the past has been recognized — virtually 250 years after the invention of its fossil stays.

A fossil cranium present in a Bavarian city within the 1770s has been acknowledged because the now-extinct species Mystriosaurus laurillardi, which lived in tropical waters in the course of the Jurassic Interval.

For the previous 60 years, it was thought the animal was a part of an analogous species, referred to as Steneosaurus bollensis, which existed across the similar time, researchers say.

Mystriosaurus cranium from above. Credit score: Sven Sachs and Michela Johnson

Paleontologists recognized the animal by analyzing fossils unearthed within the UK and Germany.

The staff, which included scientists from the College of Edinburgh, additionally revealed that one other cranium, found in Yorkshire within the 1800s, belongs to Mystriosaurus laurillardi.

The marine predator — which was greater than 4 meters in size — had an extended snout and pointed enamel, and preyed on fish, the staff says. It lived in heat seas alongside different animals together with ammonites and huge marine reptiles, known as ichthyosaurs.

The invention of fossils in present-day Germany and the UK exhibits that the species might simply swim between islands, very similar to fashionable saltwater crocodiles, researchers say.

The examine, led by Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld in Germany, is published within the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, It was supported by the Palaeontographical Society, Leverhulme Belief and the Pure Sciences and Engineering Analysis Council of Canada.

Reconstruction of Mystriosaurus cranium from above. Credit score: Julia Beier

Sven Sachs, of the Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld, who led the examine, mentioned: “Mystriosaurus regarded like a gharial but it surely had a shorter snout with its nasal opening dealing with forwards, whereas in practically all different fossil and dwelling crocodiles the nasal opening is positioned on prime of the snout.”

Dr Mark Younger, of the College of Edinburgh’s Faculty of GeoSciences, who was concerned within the examine, mentioned: “Unravelling the complicated historical past and anatomy of fossils like Mystriosaurus is important if we’re to grasp the diversification of crocodiles in the course of the Jurassic. Their speedy improve in biodiversity between 200 and 180 million years in the past remains to be poorly understood.”

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