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'Grand-daddy' of crocs found in Australia

'Grand-daddy' of crocs found in Australia

A new fossil from the Age of the Dinosaurs suggests modern crocodiles first evolved in Gondwana, says an international team of palaeontologists.

The team reports on the fossilised remains of the most primitive ancestor of modern crocodiles, discovered near an outback Australian town in Queensland, in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B today.

"Up until now, the kinds of creatures that seemed to be the ancestors, or close to the ancestors, of all modern crocodiles have come from places like Belgium, from England, from the USA," says team member Dr Paul Willis.

"So that's where we thought the group originated."

But he says the new specimen, Isisfordia duncani, shares more features in common with modern crocodiles than any specimens found in the northern hemisphere.

"It really defines that branch of crocodile evolution more clearly than anything else we've come across to date," says Willis, an honorary research associate at Sydney's University of New South Wales.

The researchers say that, at 98 to 95 million years old, Isisfordia predates modern crocodiles by about 20 million years.

"Ours is the grand-daddy of crocodiles," says Willis.

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Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist         http://heretichides.soffiles.com
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs