Scientists have made the amazing discovery of a 93-million-year-old crocodile with a baby dinosaur in its stomach.
Experts believe the huge croc had grown up to 8ft long before being killed in a flood just after it had polished off the dinosaur.
The reptile was 35% preserved, and it had a “near-complete” skull and terrifying teeth. Researchers used a nuclear technique to examine it in more detail, reports Ansto (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology).
The remarkable find in Central Queensland, Australia, has been labelled the Confractosuchus Sauroktonos (“broken crocodile dinosaur killer”).
The discovery of the fossils in 2010 was made by the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and the University of New England, who have now published their findings in the journal Gondwana Research.
Joseph Bevitt, one of the co-authors of the study, said: “In the initial scan in 2015, I spotted a buried bone in there that looked like a chicken bone with a hook on it and thought straight away that it was a dinosaur.
“Human eyes had never seen it previously, as it was, and still is, totally encased in rock.
“The fossilised remains were found in a large boulder. Concretions often form when organic matter or, say a crocodile, sinks to the bottom of a river.”
Scientists believe it was preserved due to the mud surrounding the creature hardening because of the bacteria which were present.
Although scans detected “bones of the small chicken-sized juvenile dinosaur in the gut”, the species has not been formally identified.
The samples of rock had to be reduced to a size that X-rays could penetrate for high-quality scanning.
The surprising results of the team’s work gave them an insight into what the reptile ate for its last meal.
Dr Bevitt said: “The results were outstanding in providing an entire picture of the crocodile and its last meal – a partially digested juvenile dinosaur.”
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