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New dinosaur-eating crocodile species identified

Fossils of crocodile species, Deltasuchus, were found from a fossil site in Texas in US.

science Updated: Sep 14, 2017 16:38 IST
A crocodile basks on the rock inside Powai lake in Mumbai. Adults of the Deltasuchus motherali species grew up to 20 feet long and preyed on dinosaurs among other animals.
A crocodile basks on the rock inside Powai lake in Mumbai. Adults of the Deltasuchus motherali species grew up to 20 feet long and preyed on dinosaurs among other animals.(HT File Photo/Representative image)

Scientists have identified a new species of crocodile that lived around 95-million-years ago and preyed on whatever it wanted - from turtles to dinosaurs.

Researchers, including those from University of Tennessee in the US, found that adults of the Deltasuchus motherali species grew up to 20 feet long.

Based on the bite marks discovered on the fossilised bones of prey animals, they ate whatever they wanted in their environment, from turtles to dinosaurs, the researchers said.

The bones were found in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in a site in Texas in the US.

Deltasuchus is the first of what may prove to be several new species described from this fossil site, researchers said.

The area preserves a complete ancient ecosystem ranging from 95 million to 100 million years old, and its fossils are important in advancing the understanding of ancient North American land and freshwater ecosystems.

“We simply do not have that many North American fossils from the middle of the Cretaceous, the last period of the age of dinosaurs, and the eastern half of the continent is particularly poorly understood,” said Stephanie Drumheller- Horton from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“Fossils from the Arlington Archosaur Site are helping fill in this gap, and Deltasuchus is only the first of several new species to be reported from the locality,” Drumheller-Horton added.

The species was named after one of the site volunteers, Austin Motheral, who first uncovered the fossils of this particular crocodile with a small tractor when he was just 15 years old.

The findings were published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.