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Miniature crocodile SEVEN times smaller than today’s crocodile roamed Queensland 13.5 million years ago

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Snap very cute! Miniature crocodile SEVEN times smaller than current crocodile roamed forests of northwest Queensland 13.5 million years ago, fossil study reveals

  • Trilophosuchus rackhami, roamed northwest Queensland 13.5 million years ago
  • It had a short snout and three distinct ridges on the top of its skull
  • Analysis of his skull suggests he was 2.3-2.9 ft tall and weighed just 2.2-4.4 lbs

Measuring up to 5.2 meters in length and weighing up to 520 kg, today’s crocodiles are among the most ruthless animals on Earth.

But one of their old relatives was a little less intimidating, measuring just 2.3-2.9 ft (70-90 cm) in length and weighing just 2.2-4.4 lbs (1-2 kg).

This tiny crocodile, Trilophosuchus rackhami, roamed the forests of northwest Queensland 13.5 million years ago, a new study has revealed.

“This was a really unique looking crocodile, with a short snout and three distinct ridges on the top of its skull,” said Jorgo Ristevski, a PhD student at the University of Queensland and author of the study.

This tiny crocodile, Trilophosuchus rackhami, roamed the forests of northwest Queensland 13.5 million years ago, a new study has revealed

Analysis of its skull suggests the miniature crocodile was 2.3 to 2.9 feet long and weighed just 2.2 to 4.4 pounds

Analysis of its skull suggests the miniature crocodile was 2.3 to 2.9 feet long and weighed just 2.2 to 4.4 pounds

Meet Trilophosuchus rackhami

Trilophosuchus rackhami lived 13.5 million years ago in the forests of northwestern Queensland.

In adulthood, the miniature crocodile would have been between 70 and 90 centimeters in length and weigh one to two kilograms.

Researchers say the crocodile is likely related to terrestrial extinct crocodiles from Africa and South America.

They believe the species spent more time on land than most living crocodiles.

First discovered in 1993, the crocodile was named Trilophosuchus rackhami – Rackham’s three-crested crocodile – in honor of Alan Rackham, who manages the Riversleigh Fossil Discovery Center on Mount Isa.

In the study, the researchers used state-of-the-art technology to scan the extinct crocodile’s skull, revealing previously unknown details about its anatomy.

“Through micro-CT scanning of the beautifully preserved skull, we were able to digitally separate each bone,” said Mr. Ristevski.

‘We estimate that Trilophosuchus rackhami would have been between 70 and 90 centimeters in adulthood [2.3–2.9ft] tall and weighs one to two kilograms [2.2–4.4lbs]which was very small compared to most of today’s crocodiles.’

By studying the crocodile’s brain and nervous system, the researchers have been able to gather vital clues about its evolution, morphology and even behavior.

“For one of the studies, I digitally reconstructed the brain cavity of Trilophosuchus rackhami and found that it resembles that of some distantly related and possibly extinct terrestrial crocodiles from Africa and South America,” said Mr. Ristevski.

In the study, the researchers used state-of-the-art technology to scan the extinct crocodile's skull, revealing previously unknown details about its anatomy.

In the study, the researchers used state-of-the-art technology to scan the extinct crocodile’s skull, revealing previously unknown details about its anatomy.

The team hopes the findings will be helpful in understanding crocodile evolution.  Pictured, Jorgo Ristevski with the skull of the crocodile

The team hopes the findings will be helpful in understanding crocodile evolution. Pictured, Jorgo Ristevski with the skull of the crocodile

‘We were quite surprised to find this, because Trilophosuchus rackhami is evolutionarily more closely related to today’s crocodiles.

“This may indicate that Trilophosuchus rackhami spent more time on land than most living crocodiles.”

The team hopes the findings will be helpful in understanding crocodile evolution.

“Trilophosuchus rackhami was definitely one of the cutest,” said Dr. Steve Salisbury, one of the authors of the study.

“If we could travel back in time to Northern Queensland 13 million years ago, not only would you have to watch out for crocodiles on the waterfront, but you’d also have to make sure you don’t step on them in the woods.”

More than a fifth of the world’s REPTILES are at risk of extinction, study warns

More than a fifth of the world’s reptiles are in danger of extinction, a new study warned.

Crocodiles and turtles are among the most endangered species, with more than half of each species in urgent need of conservation efforts to survive.

The main threats reptiles face are agriculture, logging, urban development and invasive species, while the risk of climate change is uncertain, the international team of researchers said.

They assessed the conservation status of 10,196 reptile species and found that at least 1,829 were in danger of extinction.

Read more here

Under threat: More than a fifth of the world's reptiles are at risk of extinction, a study warns.  The researchers said crocodiles and turtles are among the most at-risk species

The main threats reptiles face are agriculture, logging, urban development and invasive species, while the risk of climate change is uncertain, the international team of researchers said.

Under threat: More than a fifth of the world’s reptiles are at risk of extinction, a study warns. Crocodiles and turtles are among the most risky species

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