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Dwarf crocodile fossil found in Sao Paulo state, Brazil

G1.COM.BR, 17-04-2007

Scientist crew find dwarf crocodile in Sao Paulo State inland
Remains was from an animal that lived 90 million years ago with dinosaurs.
The discovery made in Marília city (SP) was announced in Rio de Janeiro.

By Reinaldo José Lopes

Amidst giants, it was a dwarf. While long-necked multi-tonned
dinosaurs stomped over the land which would became the Sao Paulo State
inland, a croc only 50-cm long, smaller even then an extant caiman,
made its living too. The creature, christened /Adamantinasuchus
navae/, had their remais described by Brazilian paleontologists, who
showed them to the public in this tuesday (17).

The animal was discovered in the place where a dam is under
construction by William Nave, coordinator of the Paleontological
Museum of Marília (SP). Nave one of the greater fossil hunter of Sao
Paulo state inlands, says that he had gone to the local where the dam
is being erected to prospect for potential findings. "Almost always we
find something interesting in those places. But when I've arrived the
dam lake was already being filled." Even though, he found the /A.
navae/ fossils in rocks that seems to date back till 90 million years

The morphological analysis of the creature was made by Pedro Henrique
Nobre and Ismar de Souza Carvalho, from Geological Department of Rio
de Janeiro Federal University (UFRJ), and it had lead to the
conclusion that the remais was from a new extinct crocodile species.
For their finding, Nova was honoured with the species name /navae/.

"What is most peculiar in that animal, is that it was very small, as a
Chiuaua dog", said Carvalho. In the skull there are other odd
features: eyes very big in relation to the head size, and very
protruding anterior teeth.

Merging those features with the small size, the researchers think that
that animal was nocturnal - good reason to have large eyes - and prey
upon small animais, maybe insects or even carrion. The teeth could
help to grap the prey. Those characters are very unusual in modern day
crocs. "I would say that it was a kind of Carmen Miranda - small, but
a bombshell", jokes Carvalho.

The study was published in "Gondwana Research" and was funded by Rio
de Janeiro State Research Foundation (Faperj).


Roberto Takata