(ORDO NEWS) — It is a distant ancestor of the gharial, or modern long-snouted crocodiles. The age of the found skeleton is more than 35 million years, and the excellent condition will allow researchers to learn a lot about these ancient reptiles. In particular, experts hope that it will be possible to conduct genetic studies.
The found skeleton is more than four meters long, with a well-preserved skull and teeth in it. Until that time, such fossils were found only in the countries of North Africa, and it was not entirely clear how they got to Asia.
“The data now available show that the distribution of gharials followed a complex scenario,” said paleontologist Tobias Masson.
Experts suggest that there were at least three waves of migration of these reptiles, starting from a period of 50 million years ago. As a result, they settled in the humid regions of Southeast Asia.
In the three regions, gharials are similar to each other, but there are some differences, possibly due to different climates. Currently, long-nosed crocodiles have almost disappeared due to active hunting for them.
The skeleton found near the border with China also preserved the remains of the skin – scales and fragments of muscle tissue, so the researchers have enough material for a thorough study.
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