Daily US Times: An eight-million-year-old crocodile skull discovered in central Australia. The skull is now believed to be part of an extinct species new to scientists.
The crocodile skull had been found about 200km from Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory (NT), in 2009.
The skull was thought to belong to a known reptile of the Baru genus but that has now been updated with new study.
The species is expected to be named in the next year, and there is a Baru exhibition in the NT.
The skull was found at the Alcoota fossil site in central Australia, said Dr Adam Yates, senior curator of Earth Sciences at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
Dr Yates added that the skull was by far the best specimen of a Baru crocodile yet found.
He said: “It tells us about a new species that we didn’t realise was inhabiting central Australia. It’s somewhat surprising to imagine that central Australia had rivers to support crocodiles,” he said.
“It’s one more thread in the tapestry in understanding the way Australian fauna has evolved over time.”
Dr Yates said that while it was known that the Baru genus roamed this part of Australia many millions of years ago, the ancient skull discovered at Alcoota was from “an undescribed species of crocodile.
It belongs to a species that hasn’t yet been given a scientific name, it is distinctly different from its closest relatives.
Dr Yates said crocodiles that exist today are from a “completely different branch of the crocodile family tree”.
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