Thursday, June 15, 2006

Isisfordia, New Fossil Croc From Australia

The origin of modern crocodyliforms: new evidence from the Cretaceous of Australia. 2006. S.W. Salisbury et al. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Early on-line publication.
A new fossil from the Age of the Dinosaurs suggests modern crocodiles first evolved in Gondwana.
From ABC News:

The fossilised remains of the most primitive ancestor of modern crocodiles were discovered near an outback Australian town in Queensland. Until now the kinds of creatures that seemed to be the ancestors of all modern crocodiles have come from places like Belgium, from England, from the USA," says team member Dr Paul Willis.

But he says the new specimen, Isisfordia duncani, shares more features in common with modern crocodiles than any specimens found in the northern hemisphere. The 98 to 95 million years old, Isisfordia predates modern crocodiles by about 20 million years.

Willis and colleagues analysed two fossilised skeletons first discovered in the mid-1990s in a creek bed in Isisford, in central-western Queensland, by former deputy mayor of the town, Ian Duncan. One specimen is almost a complete skeleton with just the snout and face of the crocodile missing. The other is a complete skull.

"Between the two we have a complete skeleton," says Willis. "We know what the whole animal looked like and it's very rare to get that."

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Image: The palaeoblogger's old buddy, Matt Herne