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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
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Video: Ancient Crocodile Chewed Like a Mammal
4 August 2010 3:10 pm
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Credit: Patrick M. O'Connor, Ohio University
It might look like the skull of an ancient mammal, but these 100-million-year-old fossilized remains, found in Tanzania, belong to a member of the crocodile family. As this animation shows, the teeth of Pakasuchus resemble those of a warm-blooded carnivore, with protruding canines (pink), sharp premolars (yellow), and flat molars (blue). All allowed the critter to bite, rip, and chew its food. Modern croc teeth, in contrast, are uniformly cone-shaped for seizing and tearing prey. Based on the rest of its anatomy, which includes four long, straight limbs, scientists have concluded that the animal roamed across the African savanna, feeding on large insects such as dragonflies and possibly newly hatched dinosaurs. This means, the team will report tomorrow in Nature, that Pakasuchus probably filled an ecological niche in the southern hemisphere that mammal ancestors were exploiting in the north. As a result, Pakasuchus could—like other ancient crocs discovered recently in Africa--find ways to live comfortably out of water.
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