A stolen fossil allows us to describe a species of crocodile in the Pyrenees

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A study led by the researcher of the Catalan Institute of Paleontology Miquel Crusafont (ICP) Albert G. Sellés has described a new species of crocodile from Fossil remains found in Coll de Nargó, in Alt Urgell (Lleida), and that they were stolen in 2013, shortly before its extraction.

The fossil was recovered in a few weeks thanks to the intervention of the Mossos and handed over to a research team made up of experts from the ICP, the Museum of Conca Dellà (Lleida), the University of Coruña and the University of Barcelona, ​​reported the ICP in a statement Thursday.

The specimen has been named “Ogresuchus steals; which means “the crocodile-ogre that was stolen”, and it is a land crocodile of size relatively small that it was able to feed on the baby dinosaurs that laid their eggs in this area of ​​the Pyrenees.

According to the results of the study, published this Thursday in the journal ‘Scientific Reports‘, the partial skeleton of Ogresuchus belongs to the Sebecidae family, a group of terrestrial crocodiles abundant between the Paleocene and Middle Miocene, between 66 and 15 million years.

The oldest specimen

It is also the oldest specimen discovered so far, with 71.5 million years oldSellés explained: “Ogresuchus is 10 million years older than any other sebecidae known to date, so the finding forces us to redefine the evolutionary history of this family.”

The main characteristic of sebecidos is that, unlike current crocodiles, they had their legs located under the body, which allowed them to move “in a similar way to current mammals and be very active predators“, has commented the paleontologist.

The article describes Ogresuchus as a fairly small animal, of less than a meter long, with serrated and curved teeth, and graceful legs that suggest that it must have been an active and very agile predator, capable of hunting small prey.

The remains of Coll de Nargó were less than half a meter from a nest of titanosaur eggs and were surrounded by eggshells, so the researchers postulate that occasionally would have fed on the young.

“The baby dinosaurs were probably not their main source of food, but they would have been easy prey for a crocodile of these characteristics that would not have wasted the opportunity to prey on them,” Sellés clarified.

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