Making full use of its lanky legs and bendy back, a Pakasuchus crocodile springs for dinner some 105 million years ago in an artist's conception. Pakasuchus likely fed on small lizards, insects, and the few primitive mammals that existed in Gondwana at the time.
"This small-bodied animal occupied a dramatically different feeding niche than do modern crocodilians" study co-author Nancy Stevens, also of Ohio University, said in a statement. The crocodilian order includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gavials, and related extinct forms.
Steve Salisbury, of the University of Queensland, said the discovery of Pakasuchus will likely prompt many scientists to go back and reexamine their fossil collections.
"Isolated teeth that people previously assumed belonged to mammals," he said, "may in fact belong to crocodiles."