June 11, 2019

New Species of Fossil Crocodile Named for Long-Time Volunteer Is a "Little Nipper" of a Big Discovery

A new species of prehistoric crocodilian ancestor (that existed in what is now North Texas, but 96 million years ago) has been named Scolomastax sahlsteini after Arthur Sahlstein, a volunteer citizen scientist that assisted in its discovery at the Arlington Archosaur Site. The "little nipper," which was 3-6 feet long, lived in the last period of the Age of Dinosaurs, and co-existed with several other species of crocodyliform (extinct crocodile relative) as well as newly discovered species of dinosaurs, mammals, plants, fish and more. Due to its "weird" jaw, scientists studying its fossils believe the extinct reptile may have been an omnivore feasting on hard prey and plant life, which would differ greatly from any of its modern obligate-carnivorous ancestors alive today. The fossils of S. sahlsteini are now part of the permanent collection of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.   

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