Evolution Intelligent Design

Vegetarianism arose three times in extinct crocodiles. Maybe six.

Spread the love

American alligator/Β© Mark Kostich, Adobe Stock

From ScienceDaily:

Based on careful study of fossilized teeth, scientists have found that multiple ancient groups of crocodyliforms — the group including living and extinct relatives of crocodiles and alligators — were not the carnivores we know today. Evidence suggests that a veggie diet arose in the distant cousins of modern crocodylians at least three times.

We’ll leave it to a reader to draw a conclusion about that. πŸ˜‰ But also note:

“The most interesting thing we discovered was how frequently it seems extinct crocodyliforms ate plants,” said Keegan Melstrom, a doctoral student at the University of Utah. “Our study indicates that complexly-shaped teeth, which we infer to indicate herbivory, appear in the extinct relatives of crocodiles at least three times and maybe as many as six.”

All living crocodylians possess a similar general body shape and ecology to match their lifestyle as semiaquatic generalist carnivores, which includes relatively simple, conical teeth. It was clear from the start of the study that extinct species showed a different pattern, including species with many specializations not seen today. One such specialization is a feature known as heterodonty: regionalized differences in tooth size or shape.

“Carnivores possess simple teeth whereas herbivores have much more complex teeth,” Melstrom explained. “Omnivores, organisms that eat both plant and animal material, fall somewhere in between. Part of my earlier research showed that this pattern holds in living reptiles that have teeth, such as crocodylians and lizards. So these results told us that the basic pattern between diet and teeth is found in both mammals and reptiles, despite very different tooth shapes, and is applicable to extinct reptiles.” …

“Our work demonstrates that extinct crocodyliforms had an incredibly varied diet,” Melstrom said. “Some were similar to living crocodylians and were primarily carnivorous, others were omnivores and still others likely specialized in plants. The herbivores lived on different continents at different times, some alongside mammals and mammal relatives, and others did not. This suggests that an herbivorous crocodyliform was successful in a variety of environments!” Paper. (access?) – Keegan M. Melstrom, Randall B. Irmis. Repeated Evolution of Herbivorous Crocodyliforms during the Age of Dinosaurs. Current Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.05.076 More.

Note: Researchers: β€œIt was clear from the start of the study that extinct species showed a different pattern, including species with many specializations not seen today. One such specialization is a feature known as heterodonty: regionalized differences in tooth size or shape.” Maybe the crocodiles had an arsenal of potential adaptations in their genes.

See also: Convergent evolution of crocodile and dolphin skull shapes

and

BBC: Crocodile Eyes β€œFine-Tuned” For Lurking

Follow UD News at Twitter!

2 Replies to “Vegetarianism arose three times in extinct crocodiles. Maybe six.

  1. 1
    EDTA says:

    >The most interesting thing we discovered was how frequently it seems extinct crocodyliforms ate plants…

    Maybe that’s why they went extinct. 😎

    And what about veganism in alligators, hmm?

  2. 2
    Pearlman says:

    so some ‘carnivore’ dinos may have been vegetarians, aligns well with YeC
    keep in mind the greater nutritional value and digestibility of Pre-Mabul vegetation (due to lower radiation higher oxygen lower entropy atmosphere ..). also 255M – 25M current consensus strata laid down in a year or so during 1656 anno mundi Mabul epoch.
    so all 3 variations could have been different breeds living concurrently that ended up in 3 strata. deposited w/in a few hundred years w/ the 25M consensus The ice ages spanning 340 years till about 1996 anno mundi in actuality.
    reference the YeC Moshe Emes series for Torah and science alignment.
    so 341 years of account for from the tail end of the original single continent that was still in place at the start of the Mabul year till the end of The ice ages.

Leave a Reply