ATHENS, Ohio, Aug. 5 (UPI) — A fossil found in sub-Saharan Africa is that of an ancient crocodile, but with some surprisingly mammal-like features, especially its teeth, researchers say.
Scientists from Ohio University say the cat-sized creature, named Pakasuchus Kapilimai, chewed more like a mammal rather than “chomping” like its modern crocodile descendants, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch said.
In its head — which “fits in the palm of your hand” — OU researcher Patrick O’Connor says, it had mammal-like teeth that allowed for chewing plants, insects or smaller animals.
It likely lived mostly on land, unlike modern crocs that sport fang-like teeth, don’t chew their food and spend most of their time in the water.
The OU team had found partial fossilized remains of the animal in 2005, but a complete skeleton found in 2008 provided information about its teeth and other characteristics.
The fossil is a firsthand demonstration of evolution, O’Connor said.
“In unrelated animal groups, we see similar patterns independently arrived,” he said.
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