Friday, July 24, 2020

Nile Crocodile and American Crocodile Linked

The 7 million year skull of Crocodylus checchiai from As Sahabi, Libya 
was found in the 1930s.

This C. checchiai specimen predates the earliest known crocodile in the Americas by about 2 million years. Genetic research indicates that the animal also was a close relative of the Nile crocodile. 

According to Massimo Delfino, the extinct Crocodylus checchiai “fills a gap between the Nile crocodile in Africa and the four extant American species.” 

It is interesting that the oldest known American fossils of Crocodylus are older than the oldest known fossils of the Nilotic crocodile (C. niloticus). This fossil is older than both. Apparently, these ancient beasts were swimming between continents.

“It’s not so surprising,” Delfino says, "given today’s crocodilians’ ability to survive saltwater and travel hundreds of kilometers when helped by ocean currents."

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