Burkesuchus Mallingrandensis: Modern Crocodile’s grandfather found in Chile fossil

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Scientists believe that the fossil will help them in understanding how these reptiles went from being terrestrial to aquatic. Along with other fossils, the discovery also supports the idea that South America was a cradle of evolution for crocodiles.

Created On: Jul 26, 2021 17:25 ISTModified On: Jul 26, 2021 17:25 IST

Modern crocodile grandfather

The Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences announced on July 23, 2021, that a 150-million years old fossilized skeleton which was discovered in the mountains of Southern Chile was determined to be the ancestor of the modern crocodile.

The species, named Burkesuchus mallingrandensis, was found in 2014 by the Argentine and Chilean researchers in an Andean fossil deposit near the Patagonian town of Mallin Grande. Ever since it was discovered, the fossil has been analyzed at the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences in Bueno Aires.

Significance:

The specimen found is a ‘grandfather’ of the current crocodiles and should allow the scientists to understand how they evolved.

Scientists believe that the fossil will help them in understanding how these reptiles went from being terrestrial to aquatic. Along with other fossils, the discovery also supports the idea that South America was a cradle of evolution for crocodiles.

What does the discovery of Burkesuchus shows?

Federico Agnolin, who found the specimen said about 200 million years ago crocodiles were smaller and did not live in water. Paleontologists have always wanted to know what that transition was like.

What Burkesuchus shows is a series of unique traits which no other crocodile has as they were the first that began to get into the water, the freshwater.

When did the crocodile first appear?

According to the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences (MACN), crocodiles appeared at the beginning of the Jurassic period, around the time of the first dinosaurs.

In a few trillion years crocodiles got into the water, thanks to the existence of shallow and warm seas. South America is known all over the world for its richness in marine crocodile fossils.

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