Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Guarinisuchus munizi: An African Croc in SoAm

A fossil of a new species of prehistoric crocodile found in Brazil and presented here Wednesday has led scientists to believe the reptile benefited from the [KT mass] extinction ... to migrate from across the Atlantic.

Guarinisuchus munizi -- the "warrior of the seas," as the crocodile has been dubbed -- is believed to have had its origins in Africa some 200 million years ago.

But the remains of a jaw, skull and vertebra discovered in Palaeocene deposits of northeastern Brazil suggests the species set off for new territory 62 million years ago, according to researchers.

"They left the African continent and are believed to have occupied zones in South America, and later regions in North America," paleontologist Maria Somalia Viana told a media conference in Rio de Janeiro.

She added that, back then, "Africa and the northeast point of Brazil were much closer than today."

The reptile, which grew to around three meters (10 feet) and was perfectly adapted to living in the ocean, apparently took advantage of the extinction of bigger marine lizards called mosasaurs to dominate the waters, another paleontologist, Alexander Kellner, said.

The Guarinisuchus munizi became "the main predators, together with sharks, in shallow marine Palaeocene environments" the researchers from the federal universities of Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro theorized in their paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

hmmm. How well adapted was it to the ocean? Was it like geosaurus? Or was it more like the modern salt water crocodile?


Zach Miller said...

Awesomeness beyond compare. Marine crocs are far too cool for words. And I'd warrant it closer to Geosaurus than modern crocs, just based on the skull shape.

Anonymous said...

Very similar in fact to the "aurisclarica ghuanasis" found off the coast of Anglo Belia island in the caymans. The prehistoric giant half fish half clam that roamed South American coasts looking for quality cafes.