New Ancient Crocodile-Like Reptile Unearthed in Brazil

Scientists have uncovered the remains of a small, ancient predatory reptile in Brazil, shedding new light on the diversity of crocodile-like creatures that roamed the Earth before dinosaurs took center stage. The newly described species, named Parvosuchus aurelioi, lived approximately 237 million years ago during the Middle-Late Triassic period.

A Unique Find in South America

The fossil, discovered in the Santa Maria Formation, represents the first small predatory reptile of its kind found in Brazil. It belongs to a group of ancient reptiles called pseudosuchians, which were common during the Triassic Period (252 – 201 million years ago). While some pseudosuchians were apex predators, Parvosuchus aurelioi was part of a smaller subgroup known as gracilisuchids.

Rodrigo Müller, the researcher who reported the discovery in Scientific Reports, describes a partial skeleton that includes a complete skull with lower jaw, 11 dorsal vertebrae, a pelvis, and partially preserved limbs. The name Parvosuchus aurelioi combines ‘parvus’ (small) and ‘suchus’ (crocodile), honoring Pedro Lucas Porcela Aurélio, the amateur paleontologist who found the fossil.

Distinctive Features of Parvosuchus aurelioi

The skull of Parvosuchus aurelioi measures 14.4 centimeters in length and features long, slender jaws with pointed, backward-curving teeth. Multiple skull openings are present, and the overall skeleton is lightly built. Müller estimates the total length of the creature to be less than one meter.

These characteristics classify Parvosuchus aurelioi as a gracilisuchid, making it the first confirmed species from this group in Brazil. The author notes that this finding underscores the diversity among pseudosuchians during the Triassic period.

The discovery of Parvosuchus aurelioi adds a crucial piece to the puzzle of ancient ecosystems, offering insights into the variety of predators that existed before the rise of dinosaurs. As researchers continue to unearth new fossils, our understanding of prehistoric life and its evolution grows ever richer.

Additional Resources:

Here are three additional resources to learn more about pseudosuchians, the Triassic Period, and the Santa Maria Formation:

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