The ancient croc that preyed on dinosaurs | 6/6/2019 | Staff
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Photos of the partial braincase (top view) and jawbone of the new crocodile species, Isisfordia molnari, from Lightning Ridge, NSW. (Not to scale). Credit: Lachlan Hart.

A new species of crocodile has been described from opalised fossils found at Lightning Ridge in NSW, Australia, from a fossil unearthed more than a century ago, and a second one found more than 70 years later.

Years - Species - Isisfordia - Molnari - Ancestors

Dating back 100 million years, the new species, Isisfordia molnari, is one of the oldest known direct ancestors of today's living crocodiles. The species was named after Ralph Molnar, a palaeontologist whose many valuable contributions to Australian science include research on fossil crocodiles. This is the second species of Isisfordia discovered, with Isisfordia duncani named in 2006 from fossils found near the Queensland outback town of Isisford.

Isisfordia molnari grew to between 1.5 and 2 metres in length, and is thought to have been a semi-aquatic ambush predator, like modern crocodiles. Its prey probably included small dinosaurs such as Weewarrasaurus.

Researcher - Lachlan - Hart - Master - Science

Lead researcher Lachlan Hart, a Master of Science student at the University of New England in Armidale, explained how the new species was discovered.

Artist’s reconstruction of Isisfordia molnari. Credit: Josè Vitor Silva.

Fossil - Ridge - Jaw - Bone - Teeth

"The first crocodile fossil from Lightning Ridge, a partial jaw bone with teeth, was discovered in 1917, at a time when little was known about fossil crocodiles from the Australia's age of dinosaurs. It found its way to the Australian Museum and was given a name that turned out to be incorrect. Then, in the early 2000s, opal...
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