Cat-Sized Croc Had Mammal-Like Teeth: Big Pic

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A new species of crocodile from the Cretaceous Era has been discovered in Tanzania. What's remarkable about the new species is that it has chompers that were once thought to only exist in mammals, according to a new study.

The 105-million-year-old, cat-sized crocodile, known as Pakasuchus kapilima, lacked the armor characteristics of other crocodiles, although it did have bony plates along its tail. The beast also had a flexible spine and slender limbs. This suggests that it primarily foraged on land, preying on fireflies and small animals, unlike other water-dwelling crocodiles.

The most distinctive feature of this animal was its teeth, however. Rather than being used for tearing or cutting like other ancient and modern crocodiles, the reptile's mammal-like teeth were developed for biting and crushing.

“If you only looked at the teeth, you wouldn’t think this was a crocodile,” said Patrick O’Connor, lead author and associate professor of anatomy in the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, in a press release.

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