Scientists have unearthed 100 million-year-old fossil remains of an African creature that resembled a cross between a croc and a cat. Pakasuchus kapilimai had the scaly amoured body of a crocodile but also cat-like features including canine teeth, slender limbs, and a flexible backbone that would have helped it move with agility and grace.
Unlike modern crocodiles, it probably hunted on land at a time when the world was dominated by the dinosaurs. Experts believe it occupied an ecological niche in the southern hemisphere that was chiefly filled by small mammals in the north during the mid-Cretaceous period, Daily Mail reports.
Relatively few mammals of a similar age have been uncovered from this part of the world, and it is possible that Pakasuchus occupied a mammalian niche in the Gondwana ecosystem during the period.
The creature is not a close relative of modern crocodiles, but belonged to a successful sidebranch of the lineage, according to details published in the journal Nature. Previous fossil finds show that ancient crocodiles were once more varied in shape and size than those alive today, The Guardian says.
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