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Simosuchus clarki
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Bizarre reptile challenges notion of crocodiles as 'living fossils'

The 20-odd species of living alligators and crocodiles are nearly all that remains of what was once an incredibly diverse group of reptiles called crocodyliforms. Recent discoveries of fossil crocodyliforms have revealed that some of these reptiles, instead of conforming to traditional crocodile norms (long snout, conical teeth, strong jaw and long tail) possessed a dazzling array of adaptations that resulted in unique and sometimes bizarre anatomy. These discoveries have provided new information about a large and important group of extinct animals, while simultaneously helping to dispel the notion of crocodiles as static, unchanging 'living fossils.'
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Pakasuchus kapilimai
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Primary findings:

  1. Pakasuchus kapilimai is known from multiple specimens, with the holotype (the specimen on which a taxonomic name is based) represented by a virtually complete skull and skeleton.
  2. Pakasuchus was a small crocodyliform, with a skull length of ~7 cm and a total body length estimated at 55 cm.
  3. Micro-computed tomography (CT) scanning was used to reveal high-resolution detail of the small skull, dentition, and skeleton, some of which is still completely embedded in rock.
  4. When compared to other crocodyliforms, the skull and dentition are among the most unusual features of Pakasuchus, particularly the occluding upper and lower molar-like teeth that have shearing surfaces.
  5. Unerupted replacement teeth in the jaws of Pakasuchus already exhibit characteristic shearing ridges, indicating that this morphology (shape) is determined by genetics and not merely as a result of one tooth wearing against another.
  6. The forward-facing opening to the Pakasuchus nasal cavity suggests the animal had a primarily terrestrial (land-living) existence, rather than the aquatic one that is typical of crocodylians today.
  7. Notosuchian crocodyliforms, the group to which Pakasuchus belongs, diversified during the Middle and Late Cretaceous Period and are known primarily from former Gondwanan landmasses such as Africa, Madagascar and South America.
  8. The amazing diversity of small-bodied notosuchians on southern continents, along with an apparent paucity of mammals from these same places, suggests that notosuchians may have been exploiting a mammalian niche in Gondwana during the Cretaceous.
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A fossil crocodile reveals that this conservative group of reptiles was once much more adventurous.

Remains of teeth from an ancient crocodile uncovered in East Africa suggest it had more in common with a modern cat than with the creature's own living relatives.
All species of crocodile surviving today look and behave similarly - they live mostly in water, ambush their prey and swallow it either whole or in sizeable chunks. But around 100 million years ago in the southern supercontinent of Gondwana, members of the crocodile family occupied a much wider range of ecological niches.
Pakasuchus kapilimai is the most extreme form found so far of an extinct group called the notosuchians. Parts of five specimens have been unearthed by a team of palaeontologists led by Patrick O'Connor of Ohio University in Athens.

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New Horned Crocodile
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Title: A New Horned Crocodile from the Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Sites at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Authors: Christopher A. Brochu, Jackson Njau, Robert J. Blumenschine, Llewellyn D. Densmore

The fossil record reveals surprising crocodile diversity in the Neogene of Africa, but relationships with their living relatives and the biogeographic origins of the modern African crocodylian fauna are poorly understood. A Plio-Pleistocene crocodile from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, represents a new extinct species and shows that high crocodylian diversity in Africa persisted after the Miocene. It had prominent triangular "horns" over the ears and a relatively deep snout, these resemble those of the recently extinct Malagasy crocodile Voay robustus, but the new species lacks features found among osteolaemines and shares derived similarities with living species of Crocodylus.

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RE: Godzilla
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Important new fossils found in Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) announced the discovery of new fossils in the Al Gharbia (Western Region), following recent archaeological expeditions in the area.
The fossils included two complete large skulls belonging to crocodiles that had inhabited the river area some eight million years ago.

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A suite of five ancient crocs, including one with teeth like boar tusks and another with a snout like a duck's bill, have been discovered in the Sahara by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno. The five fossil crocs, three of them newly named species, are remains of a bizarre world of crocs that inhabited the southern land mass known as Gondwana some 100 million years ago. The unique finding provides fascinating insight into the evolutionary history of life on Earth.
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Crocodilia
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A 20-foot-long crocodile with three sets of fangs - like wild boar tusks - roamed parts of northern Africa millions of years ago, researchers reported Thursday.
While this fearsome creature hunted meat, not far away another newly found type of croc with a wide, flat snout like a pancake was fishing for food.
And a smaller, 3-foot-long relative with buckteeth was chomping plants and grubs in the same region.
The three new species, along with new examples of two previously known ancient crocodiles, were detailed Thursday by researchers Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago and Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal.

The newly discovered species are:

- Kaprosuchus saharicus, nicknamed "BoarCroc," found in Niger. BoarCroc was a 20-foot-long meat-eater with an armoured snout for ramming and three sets of dagger-shaped fangs for slicing. The tusks stuck out above and below the jaw like a modern warthog.
- Araripesuchus rattoides, which the researchers call "RatCroc," found in Morocco. This 3-foot-long croc was a plant- and grub-eater with a pair of buckteeth in the lower jaw it used to dig for food.
- Laganosuchus thaumastos, or "PancakeCroc," found in Niger and Morocco. Also 20 feet long, it was a squat fish-eater with a 3-foot pancake-flat head and spike-shaped teeth on slender jaws.

In addition the researchers found new fossils of two previously named species:

- Anatosuchus minor, "DuckCroc," found in Niger, a 3-foot-long fish-, frog- and grub-eater with a broad snout and Pinocchio-like nose. Special sensory areas on the snout end allowed it to root around on the shore and in shallow water for prey. Its closest relative is in Madagascar.
- Araripesuchus wegeneri, or "DogCroc," found in Niger, a 3-foot-long plant- and grub-eater with a soft, doglike nose pointing forward.


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RE: Godzilla
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Palaeontologists have made the most important discovery to date at the Arlington Archosaur Site, a prolific fossil site in North Arlington, Texas. The disassembled skull of a crocodile with two and a half inch long teeth that lived nearly 100 million years ago has been unearthed.

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The skull of a 15m prehistoric crocodile will be on display at the NT Museum and Art Gallery as part of its celebration of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday.
The exhibition, Supercrocodilians: Darwin's ultimate survival story, is free and opens today.

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Ancient crocodile
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Researchers are hoping a large cache of ancient crocodile bones in western North Dakota will yield the state's first complete croc skeleton.

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