Researchers Discovere New Species of Prehistoric Crocodile

According to a University of Missouri news releaseTuesday, a new species of prehistoric crocodile has been discovered by a University of Missouri researcher. The prehistoric crocodile is called Shieldcroc, because it has a thick-skinned shield on its head. According to researchers, Shieldcroc is an ancestor of modern day crocodiles. Scientists will be able to use the discovery of  Shieldcroc  to study the evolution of crocodiles and to determine how to save modern day crocodiles from extinction. The Shieldcroc dates back to the Late Cretaceous period, which was approximately 95 million years ago. Casey Holliday, co-researcher and assistant professor of anatomy in the University of Missouri School of Medicine, discovered Shieldcroc by examining a fossilized partial skull specimen, which was found in Morocco.After looking at blood vessel scarring on the bone, Casey Holiday learned that the prehistoric crocodile had a thick-skinned structure on top of its head. According to the researcher, the shield was probably used as a method of attracting mates and intimidating enemies. The shield could have also been used to control the temperature of the animal’s head. Casey Holliday also analyzed the prehistoric crocodile’s skull and brain to determine the size of the reptile. He believes that Shiledcroc had a 5 foot long head and was 30 feet long.