Fossils of Two New Ancient Crocodile Species Discovered

Posted on May 21, 2013

Crocodylus falconensis

Scientists from the University of Zurich say that 14 different crocodile species existed five million years ago and about seven of them occupied the same region at the same time. The scientists say the deltas of the Amazonas and the Urumaco (a river on the Gulf of Venezuela that no longer exists) was inhabited by an abundance of diverse crocodile species that has remained unparalleled ever since.

Fossils of two new ancient crocodile species have been discovered. They include the Globidentosuchus brachyrostris (pictured below), which belonged to the caiman family and had spherical teeth, and Crocodylus falconensis (pictured above), a crocodile that the researchers assume grew up to well over four meters long.

The scientists say the different alligators that lived in the region were specialized feeders. Globidentosuchus brachyrostris probably fed on shellfish, snails or crabs with its spherical teeth. There were also giant crocodiles during this period the grew up to 12 meters long and ate turtles, giant rodents and smaller crocodiles.

Globidentosuchus brachyrostris

Torsten Scheyer from the University of Zurich says in a statement, "There were no predators back then in South America that could have hunted the three-meter-long turtles or giant rodents. Giant crocodiles occupied this very niche."

The research was published here in Nature Communications.

Photos: UZH

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