The success of ancient crocodiles was due to fast evolution
The researchers examined over 200 skulls and jaws, including bones from crocodiles and their extinct ancestors dating back 230 million years. They investigated shape variation to reveal species variations and examined how quickly crocodile classes evolved over time.
Crocodiles, alligators, and gharials, the only surviving crocodilians, are more cautious than these extinct fossil species, and have developed continuously over the last 80 million years, but there is little sign of a slowdown in their development, and they are not ‘living fossils,’ as previously believed.
Dr. Tom Stubbs, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “Crocodiles and their ancestors are an incredible group for understanding the rise and fall of biodiversity.Dr. Stephanie Pierce, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolution Biology at Harvard University, said: “Ancient crocodiles came in a dizzyingly array of forms. They were adapted to running on land, swimming in the water, snapping fish, and even chewing plants.
Professor Michael Benton from Bristol added: “It’s not clear why modern crocodiles are so limited in their adaptations. If we only had the living species, we might argue they are limited in their modes of life by being cold-blooded or because of their anatomy.