Skull of tadpole-like pre-dinosaur era predator reconstructedtext_fields
Scientists have figured out what a crocodile-like predator that lived on Earth way before dinosaurs looked like and have digitally reconstructed its face.
The 330-million-year-old tadpole creature's skull reconstruction has also provided clues to its lifestyle. Researchers from University College London say the animal had huge teeth and powerful jaws which makes them really good predators. The shape of their skulls had multiple ridges that probably strengthened their skulls. They also used special sensory adaptation to locate prey. The massive eyes helped it see in dim swamps.
Researchers are now planning to conduct biomechanical simulations to understand how it functioned.
"In life, Crassigyrinus would have been around two to three metres long, which was quite big for the time. It would probably have behaved in a way similar to modern crocodiles, lurking below the surface of the water and using its powerful bite to grab prey," said the lead author Laura Porro.
It lived in the coal swamps in Scotland and parts of North America.
"These animals were preserved in fine-grained rock that provides great contrast when CT scanning. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide much structural integrity, so as more material piled up on top of Crassigyrinus, it squashed the fossils down," she added.
Crassigyrinus scoticus had four limbs and was related to the first creatures that transitioned from water to land. Tetrapods (creatures with four limbs) started appearing on Earth around 400 million years ago which makes them a milestone in evolution.
Experts subjected broken fossils of the extinct species to computed tomography scanning and 3D visualisation to show how the ancient creature looked. The first specimen of the beast was found in 1929. It only showed parts - cheek region and the side of the snout - of the right side of the skull.
The lead author said that the reconstruction work was like solving a 3d-jigsaw puzzle.