Our group, our research team, has been working in southern Tanzania for a few years now and we’ve found a very exciting new type of crocodile. This animal is very small compared to what you think of for typical crocodiles. The skull was about three and a half inches in length. It would easily fit in the palm of your hand, and the rocks in which this animal were found are dated at about 105 million years so it’s actually quite old. It’s during the time of the dinosaurs, during the Cretaceous period. And what’s so special about this new crocodile, it’s what the teeth look like in this, and if you were find just a tooth from this animal, there’s no way that you would ever think it was a crocodile of any kind.
A couple of other interesting things about this new crocodile that, once again, make it stand out is that the nose openings, the nose holes, if you will, actually were directed forward instead of up, and that’s very suggestive of an animal that, in fact, does not live in water at all but was actually an animal that was up and living in what we call the terrestrial environment, or land-living animal. And one other interesting bit of anatomy about this new animal is its limbs, its fore and hind limbs. This animal had relatively long and slender limbs. We might think about it moving around in quite an agile way amongst the vegetation. The best comparison of animals that are alive today would be something like a standard housecat or, you know, maybe a possum, you know, so we’re talking an animal of about that body size.