Fossil Tail From Jurassic Could Shed Light on Crocodiles' Family Tree

Paleontologists have found the intermediate species of the crocodile of the Jurassic period

Paleontology discovered a Crocodiles Transitional fossil that back in Jurassic time

Sea dwelling predators ruled the Earth alongside their land based counterparts during the Jurassic period. One group of crocodiles had an armored skin - like dinosaurs, and used their limbs to walk.

A fossilised piece of reptile backbone dating back 180 million years has revealed how some ancient crocodiles evolved into unusual dolphin-like creatures.

This ancient crocodile has been nicknamed Magyarosuchus fitosi, making reference to Atilla Fitos, the collector who discovered the Jurassic fossil tail which turned out to be the "missing link" between the Jurassic terrestrial crocodile and dolphin-like crocodiles, a distant marine ancient crocodile.

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Dr Mark Young, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who was involved in the study, said: "This fossil provides a unique insight into how crocodiles began evolving into dolphin and killer whale-like forms more than 180 million years ago".

Young and his colleagues at the university have discovered the tail in 1996. "The presence of both bony armor and a tail fin highlights the remarkable diversity of Jurassic-era crocodiles".

The study, titled "A new large-bodied thalattosuchian crocodyliform from the Lower Jurassic (Toarcian) of Hungary, with further evidence of the mosaic acquisition of marine adaptations in Metriorhynchoidea", was published May 10 in the journal PeerJ.

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This species of crocodile had the properties of two other species.

"If we could step back in time 8 million years, you'd basically see the same animal crawling around then as you would see today in the Southeast. Also 30 million years back, they really did not look a lot various", claimed Evan Whiting, a doctoral pupil at the College of Minnesota, that examines crocodiles. Scientists believe they have hardly changed over millions of years and could be the best source to learn more about extinct-dinosaurs and the evolution of birds.

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