From the Courier Mail in Australia:
Fossil solves ageless mystery
June 15, 2006
FOSSILS of isisfordia duncani, a 95 million-year-old crocodilian, have solved a long-standing mystery.
The “new” animal’s fossils have taken University of Queensland researchers 3000 hours to put together after being discovered by the Deputy Mayor of Isisford, Ian Duncan, in the mid-1990s in a dried creek bed on the outskirts of the central-western Queensland town.
The animal features in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society journal by an international team of paleontologists, headed by Steve Salisbury from UQ’s School of Integrative Biology.
Dr Salisbury said the discovery suggested the ancestor of all living crocodilians – crocodiles, alligators and gharials – originated in Australia rather than Europe or North America, as previously thought.
“These are the most complete crocodilian fossils yet discovered in Australia, and provide us with valuable new insights into the early evolution of today’s crocodilians and their lifestyle as semi-aquatic ambush predators,” Dr Salisbury said.
“The appearance of Isisfordia signalled the dawn of crocodilians as we know them today.”
Living 98 million to 95 million years ago, Isisfordia duncani predates the first recorded appearance of alligators and gharials by almost 20 million years, and the first true crocodiles by more than 30 million.
Dr Salisbury said isisfordia was small compared to most of its modern descendants – adults are just over 1m long and no more than about 3kg – and looked like a dwarf version of the American alligator, but with a much flatter and longer snout.
“It may only have been small by today’s standards, but it represents a very important phase in the evolutionary history of crocodilians.”
Initial preparation of the fossils was undertaken at the Queensland Museum, with much of delicate work being completed in Dr Salisbury’s Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory by research assistant Kerry Geddes over 2½ years.
While the front portion of the skull was missing, Dr Salisbury’s team found a complete fossilised skull in the same district in April last year that has given isisfordia duncani a face.
A display on isisfordia will form the centrepiece of the Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre in Isisford, which will be opened by Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce, on July 14.
See also here.
Brazilian fossil crocodile here.
USA: Mesozoic crocodile deinosuchus, second biggest species after sarcosuchus.
Alligator in Los Angeles: here.
Alligators post Hurricane Katrina: here.
From the Dear Kitty Modblog Google cache:
Crocodilians in the Antilles, Florida, etc. Linking: 11 Comments: 9
Date: 8/5/05 at 7:49AM
Mood: Looking Playing: Snappy the little crocodile
Especially about the spectacled caiman.
Song “Snappy the little crocodile” (about a Nile crocodile): lyrics and video here.