The prehistoric crocs’ development mirrors those of today’s crocodiles, whose saltwater varieties are far bigger and suited to larger territories compared with their smaller cousins that live closer to shore or in freshwater.
A team of researchers, led by the University of Edinburgh, examined fossil specimens from museums around Europe. From detailed analysis, they were able to determine key elements of the animals’ anatomy and lifestyle, and concluded that not all were of the same species.
File under: Stasis (stasis = solved problems, solution often replicated)
Here’s the abstract (open access):
Machimosaurus was a large-bodied genus of teleosaurid crocodylomorph, considered to have been durophagous/chelonivorous, and which frequented coastal marine/estuarine ecosystems during the Late Jurassic. Here, we revise the genus based on previously described specimens and revise the species within this genus. We conclude that there were three European Machimosaurus species and another taxon in Ethiopia. This conclusion is based on numerous lines of evidence: craniomandibular, dental and postcranial morphologies; differences in estimated total body length; geological age; geographical distribution; and hypothetical lifestyle. We re-diagnose the type species Machimosaurus hugii and limit referred specimens to only those from Upper Kimmeridgian–Lower Tithonian of Switzerland, Portugal and Spain. We also re-diagnose Machimosaurus mosae, demonstrate that it is an available name and restrict the species to the uppermost Kimmeridgian–lowermost Tithonian of northeastern France. We re-diagnose and validate the species Machimosaurus nowackianus from Harrar, Ethiopia. Finally, we establish a new species, Machimosaurus buffetauti, for the Lower Kimmeridgian specimens of France and Germany (and possibly England and Poland). We hypothesize that Machimosaurus may have been analogous to the Pliocene–Holocene genus Crocodylus in having one large-bodied taxon suited to traversing marine barriers and additional, geographically limited taxa across its range.
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