A team of researchers has uncovered what seem to be the fossils belonging to seven different species of crocodiles. According to the scientists, all these species lived together in the Peruvian Amazon basin some 13 million years ago.
The experts found the ancient crocodile remains in two fossil bone beds in the vicinity of Iquitos, a Peruvian city.
One of the fossils belonged to a crocodile species known as Gnatusuchus pebasensis. This reptile was approximately 5 foot long and preyed mostly on shellfish.
According to the researchers, the reptile was a species of caiman with a shovel-like snout, and spent its time buried in the muddy wetland bottoms, rooting for food. It had bulbous teeth which were designed for easily crushing the shells of mollusks and clams.
John Flynn, paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York , explained that the recently discovered species of ancient crocodile had a special anatomy and lifestyle that was not known in any other crocodilians.
The recent findings contribute to a better understanding of the origins of the modern biodiversity in the Amazonian regions, as well as understanding what species lived before the Amazon river started forming, more than 10 million years ago.
13 million years ago, the Amazon regions consisted of immense wetlands, lakes, rivers and swamps.
Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi, chief of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum in Lima, said that the Amazonian regions have an extremely complex and very fascinating history.
According to the researchers, the seven species of crocodiles could only have coexisted in the same area because the environment was very elaborate and had plenty of food sources. This helped the crocodiles to avoid fighting over the same prey.
Flynn explained that the pre-historic wetlands were very rich in many species of aquatic animals that the crocodiles could feed on.
According to Flynn, evolution helped the crocodiles adapt their body shape and size according to the environment in which they lived and hunted.
One of the seven species of crocodile fossils belonged to the giant Purussaurus neivensis, a reptile that measured more than 13 meters, with sharp, long teeth and powerful jaws.
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