Making its first appearance in Texas, a prehistoric crocodile thought to have originated in Europe now appears to have been a native of the Lone Star State. The switch in origins for the genus known as Terminonaris is based on the identification of a well-preserved, narrow fossil snout that was discovered along the shoreline of a lake near Dallas.
The 96-million-year-old fossil from Texas is the oldest prehistoric crocodile of its kind in the world, according to paleontologist Thomas L. Adams at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, who identified the reptile. A distant cousin of modern crocodiles and alligators, Terminonaris was similar to the modern-day Indian gharial, only much larger.
“With the recognition of Terminonaris here in Texas, this actually changes a lot about what we thought we knew about this group,” Adams said.
“Now we know the group had a wider distribution range, and that it’s much older. It represents a unique find for Texas. This is the first occurrence of Terminonaris in Texas. It’s also the oldest occurrence of Terminonaris in the world, and it’s also the southernmost occurrence of Terminonaris anywhere.”