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Home / Science / Old crocodile teeth reveal some probably eaten plants: NPR

Old crocodile teeth reveal some probably eaten plants: NPR



An artist has reconstructed what ancient crocodile ancestors looked like, including some that most likely ate plants.



Jorge Gonzalez


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Jorge Gonzalez

An artist has reconstructed what ancient crocodile ancestors looked like, including some that most likely ate plants.



Jorge Gonzalez

Modern crocodiles can trace their ancestry back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. If you imagine this Cretan crocodile ancestor, how do you imagine it? Maybe a fish or a bird?

Think again. Scientists say they are more likely to be prehistoric flowers or other plants. A recent study in Current Biology has found that these ancient crocodile cousins ​​have evolved into herbivores at least three times and probably more often.

It began with a palaeontology student at the University of Utah who puzzled over some odd-looking teeth of crocodile cousins ​​(crocodile cousins ​​or crocodiles for short).

"The fact that so many crocodile teeth are nothing like them anymore has absolutely fascinated me," says Keegan Melstrom to NPR.

Modern crocodiles who eat meat have distinctive sharp, pointed teeth. Look at the Chompers on this Nile Crocodile, for example:

Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) have sharp, pointed teeth, unlike some of their ancient relatives.

Marcos del Mazo / LightRocket on Getty Images


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Marcos del Mazo / LightRocket via Getty Images

Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in contrast to some of their ancient relatives, have sharp, pointed teeth.

Marcos del Mazo / LightRocket via Getty Images

But Melstrom says he found examples from prehistoric times when crocodiles had more complicated teeth – more grooves and ridges than modern crocodiles.