Palaeontologists have discovered a Jurassic fossil tail, which could be the missing link in the family tree of crocodiles. During the Jurassic period between 200 to 145 million years ago, ancient crocodiles had two basic forms. One group had dino-like armour and used limbs for walking on land. The other group was more dolphin-like, having tail fins and flippers and no armours.
Researchers said that the 180 million-year-old fossil belonged to an intermediary species that featured both armour and tail fins. "This fossil provides a unique insight into how crocodiles began evolving into dolphin and killer whale-like forms more than 180 million years ago," said Mark Young, from the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences.
The researcher said that the presence of both the tail fin and bony armour shows the remarkable diversity of crocodiles during the Jurassic period. Young and colleagues, who dug up the tail in a mountain in Hungary in 1996, called the new species Magyarosuchus fitosi after Attila Fitos.
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