Uncle of all modern crocodiles: 14-foot-long reptile roamed Wyoming 155 million years ago
The “uncle” of all modern crocodiles was a spooky 14-foot-long creature that roamed the Serengeti-like landscape of Wyoming around 155 million years ago.
A research team led by the University of Hokkaido who discovered a new species of croc-like “goniopholidide” came to this conclusion.
(Photo: Getty Images)
The discovery of Amphicotyleus milesi
the ‘Amphicotyleus milesi’ fossil was discovered in the East Camarasaurus Quarry in Albany County, Wyoming, which was named after the location’s dinosaur finds, according to Daily mail.
According to paleontologists, A. milesi weighed about half a ton and had a mouth filled with 30 razor sharp teeth two inches long.
A. milesi was not only the “uncle” of modern crocodiles, according to research author and paleontologist Junki Yoshida of the Japanese University of Hokkaido, but he also showed the genesis of their distinctive diving breathing equipment.
Yoshida argues that, like contemporary crocodilians, Amphicotylus milesi has a rear extension of the nasal passage and a small, curved tongue bone.
This shows that crocodilian ancestors were able to lift the valve at the tongue level by keeping their outer nostrils above the water level. Like modern crocodilians, they could breathe underwater while squeezing their prey in their jaws.
Also read: Snappy Evolution: the secret to the successful adaptation of ancient crocodiles
Adaptation of modern crocodiles
According to experts, the discovery of Amphicotylus gives a new perspective on aquatic adaptation to modern crocodylians.
Submerged, modern crocodiles can hold their breath for up to an hour. While only 25 crocodile species now remain, there were hundreds of them during the time of the dinosaurs, some exceeding 30 feet in length and weighing six times that of A. milesi.
What now Wyoming’s badlands would have looked more like Africa’s Serengeti at the time A. milesi existed in the Upper Jurassic.
Long periods of severe drought would have forced local creatures to adapt, followed by monsoon months that would have filled local waterways.
A. milesi, according to the researchers, would have been an opportunistic predator, consuming everything from small fish to frogs, lizards and turtles, as well as herbivorous dinosaurs and pterosaurs.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Evolution of modern crocodiles
Crocodiles seem to come from another time, when reptiles ruled. However, appearances can be deceptive. Today’s crocodiles are not vestiges of the Jurassic period, but rather a manifestation of a large and diverse family that has existed for over 235 million years ago.
Additionally, crocodiles evolve continuously and at a faster rate than at earlier times in their scaly family history.
New research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by University College London anatomist Ryan Felice and colleagues yields the seemingly contradictory result regarding the evolution of crocodylians.
Researchers have found that while appearing to be semi-aquatic antiquities, modern crocodile species from Southeast Asia, Australia and the Indo-Pacific evolve rapidly by comparing three-dimensional models to plot landmarks. anatomical designs on crocodylian heads through time.
Crocodiles have developed the same head shapes over and over again, which is why modern crocodile species look so similar.
Associated article: Northern Territory’s crocodile population suddenly increases after being pushed to the brink of extinction
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