Scientists have found out to what species belongs to the crocodile-like creature, which in the Jurassic period hunted on the coast of the English county of Dorset.
The remains of the two-meter-long animal were discovered by fossil hunters after a series of mudslides on the beach in 2017. The ancient beast was named Turnersuchus hingleyae after those who discovered it, Paul Turner and Lizzie Hingley.
"The Charmouth crocodile," as it is called in Dorset, is on display at the Lyme Regis Museum, and the new research is likely to lead to more visitors wanting to meet it face-to-face.
Although this animal looked like a crocodile and is commonly known as a "sea crocodile," it is of the Thalatozuchian type, often described as a related ancestor species of modern crocodiles, and lived at large in the early Jurassic period.
Because of its relatively long, thin snout, Turnersuchus hingleyae was similar to modern gharial crocodiles, which are found in large river systems in northern India. The area of the skull where the jaw muscles were located was particularly large, possibly indicating an ability to bite quickly and thus grab fast-moving fish, octopus or squid.
The new findings are described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.