A 150 million year old fossil skeleton of a crocodile found in the mountains in the southern part of Chile has finally been identified. Scientists have said that this skeleton is that of the ancestors of the modern crocodile. The Argentinian Museum of Natural Sciences announced on Friday that further study of the fossil was still underway. The fossil skeleton found is that of a species of crocodile, Berkesuchus mallinggrandensis.
The study had been ongoing since 2014
The fossil skeleton was discovered by Argentine and Chilean researchers in 2014 in an Andean fossil deposit near the Patagonian town of Malin Grande. It has since been analyzed at the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences (MACN), located in Buenos Aires. The museum said the specimen belonged to the grandfather of the extant crocodiles.
Will help to understand the evolution of crocodiles
This will help scientists understand how crocodiles evolved. Scientists believe the fossil will help them understand how these reptiles went from terrestrial to aquatic. The find, along with other fossils, supports the ancient belief that South America was the birthplace of crocodile evolution. South America is the richest in marine crocodile fossils.
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Crocodiles didn’t live in water before
Federico Agnolin, who discovered this fossil, said that around 200 million years ago, crocodiles were small and did not live in water. Paleontologists have always wanted to know how they made themselves able to live in water. What the fossils of the Berkesuchus mallinggrandensis species tell us is a range of unique traits, Agnolin said.
These are the first crocodiles that began to live in the water
He said we cannot find such a fossil in any other crocodile. Because these are the first crocodiles that started to land in water or fresh water. It was only after this that other species of crocodiles left the earth and made water their home. According to MACN, crocodiles have appeared since the time of the first dinosaurs, in the early Jurassic.