Fossil of new crocodile species found in Brazil

2008-01-31 19:20:18 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Scientists in Brazil found the fossil of a new species of prehistoric predator dating back about 80 million years to the Late Cretaceous period that represented a "missing link" to modern-day crocodiles, media reported Friday.

"This is scientifically important because the specimen literally is the link between more primitive crocodiles that lived in the era of the dinosaurs 80-85 million years ago and modern species," said paleontologist Ismar de Souza Carvalho of Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Brazil.

The well-preserved fossil of Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi, a medium-sized lizard-like predator, measures about 5 1/2 feet (1.7 meters) from head to tail.

The fossil was found near the town of Monte Alto in Sao Paulo state and is named after the place and the local scientist who dug up the fossil in 2004 -- Arruda Campos.

Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi, an agile terrestrial predator of the Peirosauridae family, had different habits from today's crocodiles but it was similar in form and structure despite having longer limbs, scientists said.