Dinosaur Had Crocodile-Like Skull

Fish-Eating Dinosaur Had Crocodile-Like Skull (Pictures)
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January 14, 2008This bizarre British dinosaur may look like a meat-eater, but its skull actually functioned more like that of a fish-eating crocodile, a new study has found.

When eating, Baryonyx walkeri's skull stretched and bent in a similar fashion to the modern-day gavial, or gharial, an Indian crocodile with long, narrow jaws.

This spinosaur—part of a family of dinosaurs called "spine lizards," which lived about 125 million years ago—also had large, 12-inch-long (30-centimeter-long) front claws.

The 30-foot-long (9-meter-long) animal may have used them for scooping fish from the water (see above illustration).

In the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, researchers used an engineering technique to compare digital models of snouts of gavials and Baryonyx.

The data show that, through "quirks in evolutionary history," the two species had different-shaped skulls that achieved the same outcomeeating fish.

"This shows us that in some cases there is more than one evolutionary solution to the same problem," study co-author Angela Milner, of the Natural History Museum in London, said in a statement.

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—Illustration by Julian Hume ) The Natural History Museum, London
 
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