66mn-yr-old ‘bizzare’ croc ‘may have been a vegetarian’

December 9th, 2010 - 12:44 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 9 (ANI): Crocodiles are known to be carnivores, but a new study might prove otherwise.

Scientists now suggest that the basic body structure of crocodiles, alligators and ghariels evolved from a diverse group of prehistoric reptiles with different body shapes.

Over the last 10 years, palaeontologists have put together the complete skeleton of the unusual crocodilian Simosuchus clarki.

“The skull and lower jaw in particular are preserved almost completely,” the BBC quoted Nathan J. Kley, co-editor of the recent study in the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology Memoir, as saying.

S. clarki differs greatly to other crocodilians with a blunt snout, short tail and “tank-like” body.

With its short jaw and weak, leaf-shaped teeth, scientists suggest that the reptile would have been unable to hunt prey in water. In fact, the ancient crocodile may have lived inland, fed on vegetation in its semi-arid grassland habitat, they said.

Researchers describe S. clarki as the “most bizarre” of a group of fossilised crocodilians thought to live around 66 million years ago.

The study appears in the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir. (ANI)

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