A team of researchers from different universities in the US stumbled upon some fossils and managed to identify them as belonging to a crocodile. The species, called Deltasuchus motherali, could reach even 20 feet in length, and ate various prey. Judging from the teeth marks found on the fossils of the prey, researchers found they could feed on turtles, or even on dinosaurs.
The crocodile fossils were found in an unexpected area
The discovery of this crocodile ancestor came quite unexpectedly. This happened since the site was placed in an area where people don’t usually look for fossils, namely in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in Arlington, Texas. The area was usually explored by Bill Walker, Art Sahlstein, and Phil Kirchoff, some amateur fossil explorers.
They uncovered this site in 2003, and called it the Arlington Archosaur Site. The area is under rapid development, as many residential sites are being built there. All the work in the area allowed scientists to uncover these fossils, and used the help of many volunteers and fossil enthusiasts to perform excavations.
The crocodile was part of a very diverse ecosystem
Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, one of the scientists who studied the crocodile fossils, said that they hadn’t found many North American fossils dating back to the Cretaceous period. However, these fossils fit in perfectly.
“Fossils from the Arlington Archosaur Site are helping fill in this gap, and Deltasuchus is only the first of several new species to be reported from the locality.”
The fossils got their name from one of the volunteers that worked on the site. Austin Motheral was working on a small tractor in the area, when he suddenly stumbled upon the fossils of the crocodile. He was only 15 at the time.
Deltasuchus was the first discovery of the many species that had populated the area. The Dallas-Fort area was a huge peninsula at the time, which hosted all kinds of species, such as dinosaurs, crocodiles, amphibians, turtles, fish, and mammals. Therefore, there are many other fossils in the area. Scientists presume the area hosts an entire ecosystem dating back to 100 million years ago.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons