Fossil crocodile weighed less than 2 kilograms and preferred land to water

Paleontologists from the University of Queensland conducted a detailed study of the anatomy of the skull of a tiny

crocodile Trilophosuchus rackhami, which lived in Australia about 13.5 million years ago. The study helped restore the appearance of the animal and learn more about its habits.

Fossil crocodile skull. Image: Jorgo Ristevski, Journal of Anatomy

Scientists have discovered a perfectly preservedfossil reptile skull. Using microcomputed tomography, they built a digital model of every single bone in the fossil's head. The study showed that the ancient reptile should have reached a length of 70 to 90 cm, and weighed 1–2 kg. For comparison, modern Australian narrow-nosed crocodiles reach 3 m and weigh an average of about 70 kg.

Trilophosuchus rackhami means three-headedcrocodile Rackham. Such an unusual name is associated with an amazing anatomical feature. This crocodile had a short snout and three distinct ridges on the top of the skull.

Brain reconstruction of Trilophosuchus rackhami. Image: Jorgo Ristevski, Journal of Anatomy

In their work, scientists reconstructed the cavitythe brain of an ancient reptile. The study showed a clear resemblance to other extinct land crocodiles from Africa and South America. The researchers believe that the proximity in structure to terrestrial fossil species, rather than modern aquatic inhabitants, suggests that Trilophosuchus rackhami spent most of its time on land, and not in water.

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