A new species of crocodile that lived around 95 million years ago has been recovered from a fossil site in Texas. The ferocious prehistoric crocodile grew up to 20 feet long and belongs to a group called Deltasuchus motherali. Based on the bite marks discovered on the fossilized bones of prey, researchers believe they fed on everything from turtles to dinosaurs.
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Although many croc fossils from Mid Cretaceous period have been recovered from Texas, the latest finding is somehow surprising. It was discovered in a place one normally doesn’t think to look for ancient fossils – in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington.
The area, dubbed Arlington Archosaur Site, is undergoing rapid residential development, but it just keeps popping up fossil bones as well. The new finding could also fill a critical gap in the fossil record from Cretaceous period.
“We simply don’t have that many North American fossils from the middle of the Cretaceous, the last period of the age of dinosaurs, and the eastern half of the continent is particularly poorly understood,” said study researcher Stephanie Drumheller-Horton from University of Tennessee’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “Fossils from the Arlington Archosaur Site are helping fill in this gap, and Deltasuchus is only the first of several new species to be reported from the locality.”
Deltasuchus has been discovered from an area that hasn’t been well-explored for fossils and it could yield many more new species. The area of Dallas-Fort Worth was once a part of large peninsula that contained river deltas and swamps and harbored wildlife, including dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles, mammals, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and plants. It preserves a complete ancient ecosystem ranging from 95 million to 100 million years old and its fossils are important in understanding ancient North American land and freshwater ecosystems.