Washington: A giant prehistoric crocodile like creature, ‘Shieldcroc’, which existed 99 million years ago could be the ancestor of modern day crocodiles and alligators, a new study has suggested.
‘Shieldcroc’s name comes from the fact that it had a shield-like bony plate on the top of its skull.
The period 99 million years ago is often known as the “Age of Dinosaurs” but researchers are now also calling it the “Age of Crocs”.
Its skull was found in continental freshwater deposits from what is now Morocco, and researchers think that modern crocodiles may have first evolved near the Mediterranean Sea.
“There is anecdotal evidence that modern horned crocs will raise the back of their heads to show off their horns during courtship and territorial disputes,” Discovery News quoted Casey Holliday, author of the study, as saying.
“We think this shield served a similar purpose, as a means to show off.”
Holliday and co-author Nick Gardner examined the remains of Shieldcroc, which have been kept at the Royal Ontario Museum of Canada since the early 2000’s.
The researchers particularly studied the skull in detail, and also compared it to other crocodyliformes from the same time period in Africa.