Newly-discovered ancient ‘marine crocodile’ fossil could be the oldest of its kind ever found

Source: The post is based on the article “Newly-discovered ancient ‘marine crocodile’ fossil could be the oldest of its kind ever found” published in Indian Express on 4th February 2023.

What is the News?

A new study has uncovered a new thalattosuchian — an ancient ancestor of the modern-day crocodile.

What is Thalattosuchian?

Source: Indian Express

Thalattosuchia is the name given to a clade of marine crocodylomorphs from the Early Jurassic to the Early Cretaceous that had a cosmopolitan distribution.

Thalattosuchians are referred to colloquially as ‘marine crocodiles’ or ‘sea crocodiles’, despite the fact they are not members of Crocodylia, but are more distantly related.

What have scientists discovered?

Scientists have discovered the fossils of Turnersuchus hingleyae. It represents the only complete Thalattosuchian of its age and dates back to the early Jurassic, Pliensbachian period, which was about 185 million years ago.

The discovery of this fossil helps fill a gap in the fossil record and suggests that Thalattosuchians and other crocodile-like animals could have originated around 15 million years farther than Turnersuchus.

Due to their relatively long, slender snouts, they would likely have looked similar to the currently living gharial crocodiles. Gharial crocodiles are usually found in the major river systems of Northern India. 

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