Picture yourself as a deep-sea diver who spots what appears to be a friendly dolphin, until you realize the thing is over 16 feet and looks more like a giant crocodile ready to attack. This creature existed long before mankind, and scientists have recently dubbed it a missing link within the crocodile family tree. In addition, the creature gives humanity a better glimpse into evolution and how land animals shift to marine life over time.
What do we know about this animal?
After a thorough examination of a fossil specimen, scientists named the creature Magyarosuchus fitosi. It was named after Hungarian collector Attila Fitos found the fossil in the Gercese Mountains in 1996. The beast lived over 180 million years ago and fed on fish. It had reptilian body armor and the face of a dolphin, with a long snout and fin used to traverse the deep waters.
It thrived during the Jurassic Period and was one of the largest sea-dwelling predators that hunted along the coasts. If you were alive during this period, you would have encountered other predators such as giant sharks and squids that were just as deadly as fitosi and always on the prowl for the next meal. The fitosi was a top predator that competed with the most dangerous predators of the time, and it once existed as a land hunter.
Scientists remain puzzled by this dolphin-like animal because it had the armor of a land reptile, most notably the crocodile. This is because the animal began as a crocodile and evolved into a sea-dwelling mammal.
Experts eventually labeled it the metriorhynchoid, which are a family of crocs that evolved into creatures that resembled whales and dolphins during the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. In, addition, Magyarosuchus fitosi is the oldest classification with this group that had a tail-like fin.
The discovery of the fitosi helps scientists know the expansive nature of the crocodile family into the oceans.
Moreover, scientists can remake how these creatures adopted marine traits to survive underwater. The work could also help mankind know how other animals transition into the sea or vice versa.