Inside the stomach of the 2.5-meter-long crocodile, scientists have identified the partially digested remains of a young ornithopod, according to a research paper naming the new species published in the scientific journal Gondwana Research on February 11.
This is the first evidence of a crocodile preying on a dinosaur in Australia, the Museum of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs said in a statement.
The scientists used X-ray and CT scanning techniques to locate the bones within the crocodile’s specimen, as well as ten months of computer processing to produce a 3-D reconstruction of the bones.
With 35% of the freshwater crocodile preserved, the researchers were able to recover a near-complete skull of the animal. And while they couldn’t classify the tiny dinosaur inside its stomach, they described it as a juvenile weighing nearly 1.7 kilograms.
The press release added that the crocodile either killed or searched for the animal shortly after its death.
Such a discovery is “extremely rare, as only a few examples of dinosaur predation are known globally,” the press release said.
“While Conractosuchus was not a specialist in eating dinosaurs, it would not have overlooked an easy meal, like the tiny remains of ornithopods found in its stomach,” Dr. Matt White, the museum assistant who led the research, said in the press. statment.
“It is possible that dinosaurs formed an important resource in the Cretaceous ecological food web.
“Because there are no comparable global specimens, this prehistoric crocodile and its last meals will go on to provide clues to the relationships and behaviors of animals that inhabited Australia millions of years ago.”
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