Old Croc in Museum

T.-lythrodectikos-1024x439Contributed by Neil Clark, Hunterian Museum: A recent paper (Young et al.,2013) describes a new genus and species of fully aquatic metriorhynchid crocodile from the 163 million year old mudstones near Peterborough in England named Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos (“blood-biting tyrant-swimmer”). This animal was found in the old brick pits in the late 19th century, or early 20th century, and collected by Alfred Nicholson Leeds, a dedicated and knowledgeable collector of fossils. A very large part of his collections came to the Hunterian in the University of Glasgow after he died in 1917, as his wife originally came from Glasgow. It is only recently that the metriorhynchids from his collection have been researched in detail by Dr Mark Young and colleagues in an international collaboration that included Dr Jeff Liston, a former member of the Hunterian staff, as co-author. The article illustrates that the new crocodile is the oldest known large-bodied predatory metriorhynchid and the first to have separate denticles on the tooth ridges. The gape of this smooth-skinned 4 metre long crocodile is also larger suggesting that it was able to predate upon larger prey than other similar crocodiles. Leeds also mentioned that he thought that this specimen represented something special, but it has taken over 100 years for scientists to show that this is the case.

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Young, M. T., Brandalise de Andrade, M., Brusatte, S. L., Sakamoto, M. & Liston, J. J. (2013): The oldest known metriorhynchid super-predator: a new genus and species from the Middle Jurassic of England, with implications for serration and mandibular evolution in predacious clades. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2012.704948