3D reconstruction of skull suggests small crocodile is new species
A small crocodile discovered in Germany's Langenberg Quarry may be a new species, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Daniela Schwarz from Leibniz Institute for Evolutionary and Biodiversity Research, Germany, and colleagues.
|Limestone slab contains the partial skeleton of Knoetschkesuchus |
[Credit: Schwarz et al., 2017]
The researchers concluded that the atoposaurid they studied is actually a new species, which they call Knoetschkesuchus. This conclusion is based on unique features of the skull, such as openings in the jaw bone and in front of the eye, as well as of tooth morphology. The latter may have reflected dietary specialization, and diversity of tooth morphology is thought to have been a driver of atoposaurid evolution during the Jurassic.
"The study describes a new diminutive crocodile Knoetschkesuchus langenbergensis that lived around 154 Million years ago in Northwestern Germany," says Schwarz. "Knoetschkesuchus belongs to the evolutionary lineage that leads to modern crocodiles and preserves for the first time in this group two skulls in 3D, allowing us detailed anatomical studies via micro-CT images. Our research is part of the Europasaurus-Project which studies the remains of a unique Jurassic island ecosystem in Northern Germany."
Source: PLOS [February 15, 2017]