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A huge crocodile was discovered with the remains of a dinosaur in its stomach

A huge crocodile was discovered with the remains of a dinosaur in its stomach

Illustration of an ornithopod in the jaws of a chalk crocodile. (Julius Csutouni)

Scientists recently discovered the remains of an ancient predatory crocodile – and the last well-preserved meal – in the Great Basin of Australia, at a site dating back to the Cretaceous period, between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago.

Shortly before 95 million yearsIn what is now Australia, a relative of the huge crocodile stroked its powerful jaws around the dinosaur’s small body and swallowed most of it in one gulp.

The crocodile died soon after, As it fossilized, so did the partially and almost completely digested dinosaur in its womb.

The little dinosaur was a young ornithopodn, a group of mostly bipedal herbivores that includes duck-billed dinosaurs. These are the first ornithopod bones found in this part of the continent, and the animal may be a previously unknown species.

Although the crocodile fossil was missing its tail, its hind legs, most of the pelvis and skull, and many bones in the rest of the body were intact; It was over 2.5 meters tall when it died and would have likely grown even larger if it were alive, Researchers reported in a new study.

They called the crocodile relative Conflictosuchus Sauroktonos, The name, although difficult to pronounce, is justified by the amount of information about the fossil it contains.

Translated from the Latin and Greek words that mean collectively, the name weaned, a new genus and species “Crocodile dinosaur killer crocodile”according to the study.

Confractosuchus sauroktonos skull.  (Australian Museum of the Age of the Dinosaurs)
Confractosuchus sauroktonos skull. (Australian Museum of the Age of the Dinosaurs)

“Dinosaur Killer” It comes from the intestinal content of the fossils, while “broken” A statement from the Australian Museum of the Age of Dinosaurs in Winton, Queensland, notes the stone matrix surrounding the fossil, which shattered during excavation in 2010 and revealed smaller bones inside the crocodile’s abdomen.

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Crocodiles coexisted with dinosaurs for the first time, starting in the Triassic period (251.9 million to 201.3 million years ago), and previous evidence suggests they found some tasty dinosaurs.

Tooth marks on fossilized dinosaur bones (and in one case, a tooth engorged into the bone) They hint that some crocodiles fed on dinosaurs, either by hunting them down or searching for their remains.

But paleontologists rarely find preserved intestinal contents in crocodiles, possibly because their intestines contain highly corrosive acids, such as those found in modern crocodiles.

This new discovery provides the first conclusive evidence to show that dinosaurs were eaten by giant Cretaceous crocodiles.According to scholars.

Because the tiny dinosaur’s bones were too fragile to be removed from the surrounding rock, the researchers scanned the crocodile’s abdomen with X-ray computerized tomography (CT) machines and then created digital 3-D models of the tiny bones. They calculated that the ornithopod weighed approximately 1.7 kilograms.

Most of the dinosaur’s skeleton was still attached after it was swallowed. But when the dinosaur killer chews his food, Researchers report that it bit off so hard that it cut one of the ornithopod bones in half, leaving a tooth embedded in the other femur.

While the contents of the crocodile’s stomach show that its last meal was a small dinosaur, it is possible that the predator hunted other animals from the Cretaceous period as well. However, dinosaurs may have been a regular part of their diet, according to the study.

“Dinosaurs likely were an important resource in the Cretaceous ecological food web”Study lead author Matt White, research associate at the Australian Museum of the Age of the Dinosaurs, said in the statement.

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“Because there are no globally comparable specimens, this prehistoric crocodile and its last meals will continue to provide clues to the relationships and behaviors of animals that inhabited Australia millions of years ago.”he added.

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