Crocodiles, not dinosaurs ruled Earth 13mn years ago

Scientists have found that it weren't the dinosaurs who ruled Earth 13 million years ago in Peru, it were the crocodiles.

Crocodiles, not dinosaurs ruled Earth 13mn years ago

Washington: Scientists have found that it weren't the dinosaurs who ruled Earth 13 million years ago in Peru, it were the crocodiles.

There were at least 7 different species of the reptile that hunted in the lakes, swamps and rivers of the massive wetland region that pre-dated the Amazon basin, the Mirror reported.

Scientists uncovered the crocodile fossils from a rock layer known as the Pebas Formation in north-eastern Peru in a series of excavations conducted since 2002, of which 3 of the species are entirely new to science.

Gnatusuchus pebasensis, a short-faced caiman with "globular teeth" is the most unusual, which is believed to have used its snout as a shovel to dig for clams and other mollusks.

These species vanished when the mega-wetlands transformed into the modern Amazon and mollusk numbers and diversity declined.

Researcher Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi, from the University of Montpellier in France, said that they" uncovered this special moment in time when the ancient mega-wetland ecosystem reached its peak in size and complexity, just before its demise and the start of the modern Amazon River system."

It's a milestone for understanding proto-Amazonian wetland feeding dynamics, he added.

The team also found the first clear fossil representative of modern smooth-fronted caimans which was adapted to catching a variety of prey including fish.

Today, six caiman species live in the whole Amazon basin but only three ever co-exist in the same area and they rarely share the same habitat.

The findings are described in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.