Missing link found in crocodile evolution

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the UK have discovered the fossils of one of the earliest representatives of the evolutionary line of crocodiles.

One of the key transitions in the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates occurred in the Triassic, when the dominant synapsids of the previous Permian period were replaced by early archosaurs and archosauromorphs.

The former include mammals and their extinct ancestors, while the latter include extinct dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and living birds and crocodiles .

The initial division of archosaurs occurred in the middle Triassic period. At the same time, little is known about the early representatives of the evolution of crocodiles.

Scientists from the University of Birmingham and the Natural History Museum of the Technical University in the UK managed to lift the veil of secrecy.

To do this, they used fossils found back in 1963 during the expedition of paleontologist Alan Charig, but still gathering dust on museum shelves.

Missing link found in crocodile evolution 2

The fossils rested in the Manda rock formations in southern Tanzania. The remains are a partially preserved animal skull, lower jaw, several vertebrae, and bones of a forelimb.

The skull of the ancestor of crocodiles was impressive – more than 75 centimeters in length with large nasal openings and a narrow lower jaw. The length of his body reached five meters.

In addition, the researchers found significant differences in the size of the upper and lower teeth of the archosaur. The animal was named Mambawakale ruhuhu , which in the local Kiswahili language means “ancient crocodile from Ruhuhu” (local name).

Paleontologists believe it was a terrifying predator that roamed Tanzania about 240 million years ago. According to them, he was one of the largest carnivores living at that time. But most importantly, the analysis showed that mambavakale is one of the earliest representatives of the evolutionary line of crocodiles.


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