New Ancient 'Marine Crocodile' Discovered on UK's Jurassic Coast -- and it's one of the Oldest Specimens of its Type Ever Found
Published:09 Feb.2023    Source:ScienceDaily
The discovery of Turnersuchus hingleyae follows an impressive unearthing of fossils on the Jurassic Coast, in Dorset, UK, including part of the head, backbone, and limbs. In fact, the find at the Charmouth Mudstone Formation was so successful, Turnersuchus is the only complete enough thalattosuchian of its age -- dating back to the Early Jurassic, Pliensbachian period, around 185 million years ago -- to be named to date.
Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, experts state the discovery of this new predator helps fill a gap in the fossil record and suggests that thalattosuchians, with other crocodyliforms, should have originated around the end of the Triassic period -- around 15 million years further back in time than when Turnersuchus lived.

The analyses suggest that thalattosuchians likely first appeared in the Triassic and survived the end-Triassic mass extinction. However, no digs have found thalattosuchians in Triassic rocks yet, which means there is a ghost lineage (a period during which we know a group must have existed, but we haven't yet recovered fossil evidence). Until the discovery of Turnersuchus, this ghost lineage extended from the end of the Triassic until the Toarcian, in the Jurassic, "but now we can reduce the ghost lineage by a few million years" the expert team states.