General, Research, Technology

Millions of years ago, the ancestors of crocodiles walked on two legs.

Crocodiles today live in tropical areasAsia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas, but over 200 million years of their existence on Earth, they have changed. Modern crocodiles reach impressive sizes, especially combed or marine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). Representatives of this species can grow up to 7 meters in length and weigh more than a ton. These amazing animals have been living for over 100 years. According to the results of a new study, the ancestors of modern crocodiles were even more amazing, since they walked on two legs. Who would have thought!

It's hard to believe, but the ancestors of crocodiles looked something like this

To summarize the findings of the study, about 120 million years ago, giant bipedal crocodiles the size of a Tyrannosaurus roamed the territory of modern South Korea.

What do we know about crocodiles?

To begin with, most modern peoplesaw crocodiles at best in the zoo and on TV screens. We know that crocodiles belong to the order of secondary-aquatic animals of the reptile class. They have a large, lizard-like body, an elongated and flattened muzzle, and eyes, ears and nostrils are located on the top of the head. Crocodiles swim well, move fairly quickly on land and in most cases pose a danger to humansso that those who want to spend an hour or two in the company of a crocodile are unlikely to be found.

The closest relatives of crocodiles from all living organisms are birds, descendants of the sister branch of archosaurs. Let me remind you that archosaurs Is a group of ancient reptiles thatPresented by crocodiles. The extinct representatives of archosaurs include dinosaurs, pterosaurs, etc. But why did scientists decide that the fossilized tracks found during the study belong to the crocodile, and not to the pterodactyl, for example?

According to the work published in the journalScientific Reports, having discovered the fossilized traces of an ancient crocodile, the first thing the researchers suggested was that they could be left by a pterosaur, which belonged to a group of flying reptiles (it also includes pterodactyls). But a detailed analysis of the fossilized footprints showed that they belong to a previously unknown relative of the crocodiles.

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Traces of Batrachopus grandis. Photo: Ken Soo Kim, Jinju National University of Education, Kungnam, South Korea

It should be noted that this is the first evidence of the existence of a bipedal crocodilomorph. Crocodylomorpha Is a diverse group including crocodilesand their extinct relatives. There are no fossilized bones of this strange crocodile, but dozens of its traces up to 120 million years old have been preserved in the stone, and one of the traces even preserved a skin imprint.

The new species is called Batrachopus grandis. The discovered prints ranging in size from 18 to 24 centimeters suggest that the bodies of crocodiles reached almost three meters in length. Apparently, traces were left by the hind limbs of this relative of the crocodile and show a clear pattern of walking from heel to toe.

See also: When dinosaurs roamed the Earth, it was on the other side of the Milky Way

Previous research - e.g. work 2015years - showed that at least one such crocodilomorph lived in the territory of modern North Carolina 230 million years ago. The teeth of this ancient monster were like sharp blades that he used to attack prey. Unsurprisingly, scientists called it Carnufex carolinensis, which means "Carolina Butcher."

What was life like 100 million years ago?

We already told you about amazing finds,discovered in China, but archaeological wonders are increasingly catching the eye of scientists on the Korean peninsula. Like the traces of a double crocodile found near the city of Jingju, the previous find in this area was the traces of a small jumping mammal, known as Koreasaltipes jinjuensis, as well as the first turtle traces in the region. In fact, a series of recent finds gives researchers an idea of ​​what life was like on our planet 100 million years ago.

So, discovered fossil traces of an ancientcrocodile give some clues about the prehistoric life in South Korea. As modern understanding of fossils has changed, the find also tells researchers something about pterosaurs: they may not have walked on two legs at all. According to the authors of the scientific work, most likely the pterosaurs were four-legged.

Researchers also note that they first obtained evidence that some of the Cretaceous giant crocodiles were bipedal, and in their structure resemble carnivorous dinosaurs.

Photos and 3D images of footprints found in South Korea.

“The legs of the prehistoric crocodile were aboutthe same height as an adult, ”said a study co-author Anthony Romilio, a paleontologist at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Do you know what other creatures inhabited our planet 100-200 million years ago? We will wait for the answer here!

Scientists cannot say for sure howthese prints were preserved, but perhaps the creature left them in the wet mud just before the lake receded, which allowed the prints to dry and harden. When the water level rose again, the dirt and fine silt probably covered the tracks and kept them. Despite the fact that there are still very, very many questions, today we can confidently say that in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era (145-66 million years ago) bipedal crocodilomorphs lived in the south of the present Korean peninsula. In those days, there were no people on Earth.