A new ancient “Saltwater crocodile” has been discovered on the Jurassic coast of Great Britain

A new study has revealed a new thalattosuchian – the ancient “sister” of the ancestors of modern crocodiles.

discovery of Turnersuchus hingleyae following the impressive discovery of fossils on the Jurassic Coast, Dorset, UK, including a head, spine and part of a limb. In fact, the discovery of the Charmouth Mudstone formation was such a feat. Turnersuchus It is the only fairly complete thalattosuchian of its age—from the Lower Jurassic, Pliensbach period, about 185 million years ago—so far named.

Published in Review Journal of Vertebrate PaleontologyExperts suggest that the discovery of this new predator helps fill a gap in the fossil record, suggesting that talattos along with other forms of crocodilians must have appeared in the late Triassic period – about 15 million years later. Turnersuchus lived.

“Now we should expect to find more talattosuchi of the same age Turnersuchus co-author Dr. says Eric Wilberg, associate professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University.

“In fact, when our paper was published, another paper was published describing a Hettangian/Sinemurian (pre-Pliensbachian) talattosuchian skull discovered on the roof of a cave in Morocco. Turnersuchus found) supports this idea. I hope we continue to find older thalattos and their relatives. Our analysis suggests that thalattosuchians probably first appeared in the Triassic and survived the late Triassic mass extinction. »

However, no excavations have yet found thalattosuchians in Triassic rocks, meaning there is a phantom lineage (an era where we know a group existed but have yet to recover fossil evidence). until discovered TurnersuchusThis phantom line stretched from the end of the Triassic to the Toarcian, in the Jurassic, “but now we can reduce the phantom line by a few million years,” said the team of experts.

Although Thalattosuchians are not members of the Crocodylia, they are colloquially referred to as “sea crocodiles” or “sea crocodiles” despite being more distantly related. Some thalattosuchians are well-adapted to life in the oceans, with short limbs developed into fins, a shark-like caudal fin, salt glands, and potentially the ability to live birth (instead of laying eggs).

Turnersuchus is interesting because most of these known talattosuchian features are not yet fully developed. He lived in the Jurassic ocean and hunted sea creatures. Because of its relatively long and slender snout, it resembled the gharial crocodiles found today in all the major river systems of northern India.

“However,” says co-author Dr. Pedro Godoy from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, “unlike crocodiles, this nearly 2-meter-long predator lived only in coastal seas. Their skulls, although superficially similar to modern gharials, were structured quite differently.”

Thalattosuchians had particularly large supratemporal windows—a region of the skull where the jaw muscles are located. This gives him reason to say Turnersuchus and other thalattosuchians probably had enlarged jaw muscles that allowed for rapid bites; most of their presumed prey were fish or fast-moving cephalopods. A supratemporal region is also possible, as in modern crocodilians Turnersuchus had a thermoregulatory function – helping to buffer brain temperature.

Her name ‘Turner’suchushingley’ae It comes from those who discovered and donated the specimen to Lyme Regis Museum: Paul Turner and Lizzie Hingley, who discovered the fossil in 2017. The latter “suchus” is a Latinized form of “soukhos”, Greek for crocodile. The specimen is currently on display at the Lyme Regis Museum in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England.

The dig also involved colleagues from the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, who helped bring the parties together. These cliffs and beaches on the south coast of England have become synonymous with discoveries such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, as well as the discovery of the best-preserved and most complete dinosaur ever found in the UK.Brittani, Scelidosaurusto name a few.

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