This handsome sea creature is where crocodiles came from

Illustration for article titled This handsome sea creature is where crocodiles came from

Introducing Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos, a marine super-predator that lived over 163 million years ago. It looks like a cross between a dolphin and a crocodile — and for good reason. Scientists say it's a transitional species that separated marine crocodiles from their larger, more fearsome relatives.


The fossil was discovered way back in the early 1900s, but it was only identified recently by Mark Young and his colleagues. The specimen is the oldest known large-bodied predatory metriorhynchid, and its remains are currently housed at the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow.

Tyrannoneustes had pointed, serrated teeth, and a large gaping jaw which allowed it to feed on large-bodied prey. And in fact, it likely fed on creatures far larger than what its rival predators were capable of. But it eventually branched off into crocodiles, a species that fed on much smaller animals.


You can read the entire study here.

Image: Photograph: Dmitry Bogdanov/University of Edi/PA.

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Reading the paper, it seems that they only have the teeth and a part of the upper-spine/cranial area. What's to say it didn't look like this beyond the skull?