Researchers Stunned to Discover Ancient Crocodiles That Walked on Two Legs

South Korean Crocodile Track-Makers

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A restoration of the ancient landscape of South Korea with crocodile track-makers. Credit: Dr. Anthony Romilio

An global research study group has actually been stunned to find that some types of ancient crocodiles strolled on their 2 hind legs like dinosaurs and determined over 3 meters in length.

University of Queensland paleontologist Dr. Anthony Romilio stated the scientists initially believed the similar-shaped fossilized footprints were from another ancient animal called the pterosaurs.

“At one site, the footprints were initially thought to be made by a giant bipedal pterosaur walking on the mudflat, we now understand that these were bipedal crocodile prints,” Dr. Romilio stated.

“The footprints measure around 24 centimeters, suggesting the track-makers had legs about the same height as human adult legs. These were long animals that we estimate were over three meters in length. And while footprints were everywhere on the site, there were no handprints.”

South Korean Crocodile Track Makers Reconstruction

A restoration of ancient South Korean crocodile track-makers. Credit: Dr Anthony Romilio

The research study group, led by Professor Kyung Soo Kim from Chinju National University of Education, quickly discovered ideas regarding why there were no handprints.

“Typical crocodiles walk in a squat stance and create trackways that are wide,” Professor Kim stated. Oddly, our trackways are extremely narrow looking – more like a crocodile balancing on a tight-rope.

“When integrated with the absence of any tail-drag marks, it ended up being clear that these animals were moving bipedally.

“They were moving in the same way as many dinosaurs, but the footprints were not made by dinosaurs. Dinosaurs and their bird descendants walk on their toes. Crocodiles walk on the flat of their feet leaving clear heel impressions, like humans do.”

South Korean Bipedal Crocodile Tracks

Photograph of trackways made by ancient South Korean bipedal crocodile track-makers. Credit: Dr Seul Mi Bae

The footprints dated in between 110-120 million years earlier and were found after examining animal track websites in what is now called South Korea.

Researchers at first questioned the lack of hand impressions from the trackways, considered that today’s common crocodiles are ‘four-legged’ or quadrupedal.

“Fossil crocodile tracks are quite rare in Asia, so finding an abundance of nearly one hundred footprints was extraordinary,” Dr. Romilio stated.

“As an animal strolls, the hind feet have the capacity of entering the impression made by the hand and ‘over-printing’ it, however we discover no proof of this at these Korean websites.

“It isn’t due to poor preservation either, because these fossils are spectacular, they even have the fine details of the toe-pads and scales on their soles preserved.”

This research study has actually been released in Scientific Reports.

Reference: 11 June 2020,  Scientific Reports.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-66008-7

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