New Delhi: A strange, newly discovered crocodile has scientists completely baffled. The crocodile in question was discovered in the dinosaur bed in Morocco, dating to about 100 million years ago.
A fossilized upper jaw and lower jaw preserved together led to the discovery. The creature is a tiny crocodile-relative that measures less than two feet long. However, what has taken the scientists by surprise are its mammal-like teeth!
Nature World News quoted Dr Jeremy Martin, a Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique researcher at Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon and lead author of the study, saying that, “The Kem Kem Beds in Morocco have yielded a wealth of extinct creatures, mostly large animals, but with this discovery we realize that part of the ecosystem remains untapped, especially when it comes to small-bodied terrestrial vertebrates.”
The crocodile has been christened 'Lavocatchampsa sigogneaurussellae', after French paleontologist René Lavocat, who worked extensively on African fossils. Its name is also based on the names of Dr. Denise Sigogneau-Russell and husband Dr. Donald Russell who acquired the fossil.
Scientists have likened its teeth to smaller mammals, describing them as 'complex teeth with cusps and basins'.
As per the report in Nature World News, the specialized teeth of the tiny crocodile suggest that its diet consisted primarily of insects. The teeth of modern crocodiles are not made to chew their food. Due to this, crocodiles swallow their prey whole or in large chunks.
The crocodile's small size has led researchers to believe that it spent most of its time on land, avoiding the waters that are teeming with larger and highly carnivorous predators.