Ancient super crocodile found in Europe, fossils rediscovered in Scotland museum after 100 years

By on Jan 31, 2013 in Animals, Europe, Science Comments

A so-called ancient super crocodile was found by scientists a long time ago, and its long-forgotten fossils have been recently rediscovered in a museum in Scotland. The remains were said to be from a prehistoric super-predator that appeared to be part-crocodile and part-dolphin, and were laid there for around 100 years.

As noted at Live Science on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, the fossils of the ancient super crocodile, which was named Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos (“blood-biting tyrant swimmer” in ancient Greek), were originally discovered between 1907 and 1909 by fossil hunter Alfred Leeds in clay pits in Europe.

According to the report, which the complete study also published at Journal of Systematic Palaeontology early this month, the said fossils were placed in a drawer at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, but it was only recently that Mark Young and his colleagues rediscovered them.

“At that time, Europe would have been an archipelago with some larger landmasses,” Mark Young, a researcher and a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the University of Southampton in England, was quoted telling to Live Science.

“The discovery of Tyrannoneustes shows that during the Middle Jurassic, metriorhynchid crocodiles were beginning to evolve into predators of large-bodied prey. By the Late Jurassic, numerous metriorhynchid species were suited to feeding on large prey, but Tyrannoneustes is the first known from the Middle Jurassic.” Young added.

And although researchers could not estimate the actual size of the ancient super crocodile, the right side of its lower jaw was found to be at least 26 inches (67 centimeters) long. The beast’s lower jaw and enlarged teeth with serrated edges also suggest that they can slice larger prey into pieces small before they eat them.

In addition, the predator was understood to have a long snout, armorless skin, huge flippers, and a tail fin where the top half is smaller than the bottom half, making it similar to an upside-down tail fin of an ordinary shark. It was believed to have lived around the British coastline approximately 165 million years ago.


Ancient super crocodile
Artist’s sketch of ancient super crocodile ‘Tyrannoneustes’
Image Credit: Dmitry Bogdanov via Live Science

super predator right side lower jaw
Fossils of the right side lower jaw of ancient super crocodile ‘Tyrannoneustes’
Image Credit: Mark Young via Live Science


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