The Croc That Ran on Hooves

The Croc That Ran on Hooves

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Language: English

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thanks to this month's Yount ologists Jake Hart John Ivy John Davison Inge and Steve in 1824 French naturalist georges cuvier became the first scientist to describe a strange specimen of an extinct crocodilian but even he had no idea how truly odd this animal will turn out to be the specimen was from central France and consisted of just a few teeth and bones enough to tell that it was some kind of croc like reptile but one unlike any that had ever been discovered Cuvier noted that the teeth were flat and serrated completely different from the cone-shaped teeth found in modern crocodilians this reptiles seemed
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equipped more for biting through flesh than grabbing prey and pulling it into the water as many crocodilians do today Cuvier described this animal as the crocodile from the morale of our Chantal which sounds a lot more regal in French today the animal is known as bovver asuka's but it wasn't until almost two centuries later that the full body of this drained reptile was finally pieced together revealing that those flat sharp teeth belonged to one of the weirdest members of the order crocodilia ever found for one thing its legs were much longer than those in those Crocs today and its hind legs are a lot longer than its front
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legs plus instead of claws its toes were each kept with hugs much like those found in early horses at the time so yeah there once was a crocodilian with hooves that could run down prey on land and some researchers think that had another even stranger ability although others aren't so sure now how did this living nightmare this crocodile from the morel come to evolved basically it's the product of a whole lot of family competition when I say bovver asuka's was a crocodilian I don't mean that it was a crocodile but it was a member of the same order as crocodiles which is known
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as crocodilia and anything within that order including modern animals like alligators and Caymans are called crocodilians and members of the order crocodilia have been around in one form or another since the Late Cretaceous around 100 million years ago but after the extinction event at the end of their Cretaceous the non-avian dinosaurs and other large arca sores were gone and that's when crocodilians really began to diversify and flourish taking on many of the niches that those animals had left empty one such group of enterprising reptiles was the now extinct family known as Plano cran a day a group of crocodilians that are characterized by living mostly on land instead of in the
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water and having those strange clade like teeth Plano cran today first showed up in the Paleocene epoch about 61 million years ago starting with the species from China known as Plano crania hangdog ANSYS but the family soon spread and diversified and by the middle of the Eocene epoch around 50 million years ago this members could be found running around Germany and North America including the most widespread of them all over asuka's no matter where it lived Beaufort asuka's wasn't usually the only crocodilian around and that might have been one of the driving evolutionary forces that turned it into the nightmare fodder that it became after all but no a lot of carnivores
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were in the same place it creates competition and when that happens sometimes you have to do something a little different to set yourself apart in order to survive a good example of this phenomenon is recorded in the coal baring layers of the 48 million year old fossil site in Germany known as Geisel tall this layer of swampy sediment preserves the bodies of four different genera of crocodilians in addition to Beaufort asuka's there was is yet asuka's which was nearly 3 metres long the medium-sized diplo saina don and the tiny pug faced Alok Nath asuka's at just over half a metre long studies of the teeth and skulls of these crocs showed that each genus had adapted to its own
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ecological niche AZ at asuka's for example was the biggest and 8 large fish and sometimes ambushed mammals that came to drink from the swamp but tipline Adan ate small fish and frogs and alligators okis was more likely eating small invertebrates like crayfish but all three of these crocodilians were aquatic or at least semi aquatic they had short legs and long thin like tails they weren't built for running after prey on land and there were some predators on land but not nearly as many as you might expect 48 million years ago bears cats and dogs hadn't evolved yet which means that a large niche for a predator had been left empty and the land was full of potential
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prey from big two little dog sized horses so any crocodilian that could take advantage of that wide-open nishan land would have a better chance of thriving especially when there are already three other kinds of crocodilians patrolling the waterways okay but then how did Beaufort asuka's come to fill that niche how did its ancestors become this running razor tooth predator well the fossil record doesn't really help us there in the United States Beaufort zookas shows up fully formed and ready to run in the early Eocene it appears in the fossil record nearly simultaneously about 55 million years ago in Texas Wyoming and Utah before
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spreading to Europe and there's no sign of the ancestor that would eventually lead to bovver asuka's but we could find clues to its origins by looking at some of its modern relatives because the fact is not all modern crocodilians are bound to the water some of them still do hunt on land like one known as the smooth fronted caiman this caiman isn't closely related to Beaufort asuka's or the other plan of cranes but it does have a similar lifestyle not only does it tend to hunt on land but like Beaufort asuka's it can sprint for short distances and it even has teeth that are a bit more blade-like than other crocodilians so researchers think that whatever Beaufort sook is descended from
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probably looked and behaved a lot like today's smooth fronted caiman and that ancestor would have been primed for natural selection to increase its speed and biting power making it better suited to life on land now one key to that transition was in its teeth those flat serrated teeth that Beaufort cyka sand other planar crane heads had are known as if a dog dentition and it made a big difference in health they could take down big prey many modern crocodilians drag their prey underwater so they have conical teeth that can clench their prey in their mouths as they drown it which is not how I want to go but terrestrial crocodilians needed sharp slicing teeth
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to help them inflict a lot of damage in single bites killing their prey more quickly which is not a better option now another adaptation that gave this reptile a leg up for life on land was it's strange legs like I mentioned before the legs of Beaufort asuka's were much longer than a typical crocodilians and its back legs were longer than its front legs and this is where things get even more interesting and pretty controversial if you've ever heard of Bober asuka's before or heard of it by its other older name pristichampsus then you might have heard that this reptile had a very strange ability indeed the
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ability to run on just two legs on some TV shows and websites has been depicted as being facultative ly bipedal meaning that it could at times carry itself on his hind legs so it could run even faster on land this ability was proposed by a in Germany who thought that it's unusually long back legs might have made this possible after all many reptiles with a body plan like this are capable of running on their hind legs like basilisks and collared lizards and if Bofors Lucas really could have run on two legs I'd be the first to say that it would have made this animal even more terrifyingly awesome or awesomely terrifying but we talked to a couple of
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experts who specialized in ancient crocodilians including dr. Christopher Brochu who reclassified pristichampsus as Bofors Lucas and he and others are not at all convinced they argue that the limb proportions of this animal aren't nearly as extreme as they are and modern bipedal lizards and that a center of mass was also too far forward for it to have been able to raise its upper body so if both first Lucas wasn't bipedal I'd have to say I'd be disappointed but also somewhat relieved and in any case both asuka's did have one more undisputed and equally unusual trait that helped it master life on dry land
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it's Hookes most crocodilians have pointy fingers that are tipped and claws but the claws of buffer zookas were rounded and blunt much like hooves pretty much the only difference between the hoods of bovver asuka's and the hoods of its prey like early horses was that its hooves were a little narrower so with its hoofed hands and feet it would have been much better at pushing off the ground and adding bursts of speed to catch its prey in the fossil evidence suggests that these running crocodilians were quite good at what they did several horse fossils found at Geisel tall in the 1950s appeared to have crocodilian teeth embedded in them and at another site in germany there's even a primate jaw with bite marks and
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teeth that show evidence of going through the very acidic digestive tract of a crocodilian but despite the many adaptations that both asuka's had at its disposal we don't have any toothy hooved running crocodilians today and I'm going to count that as a positive the last of the plan of Kranitz the species known as Rover suka spoor acts when extinct between 40 million and 45 million years ago it was as they say the end of an era but also the beginning of a new abundance of mammalian predators the earliest members of the order Carnivora proud the land around this time as did the kriya dance an odd group of mammals
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that seemed at once cat-like and doglike that there weren't actually related to either it's not clear whether these warm-blooded animals out competed the running crocodilians but it's possible and a big environmental change was also underway in the last half of the Eocene thanks to the chemistry of mountain building earlier in the Eocene the collision of the indian plate with the eurasian plate created the himalayas and the slow weathering of these new mountains gradually removed carbon dioxide from the air these and other plate movements also changed the circulation of air currents and together these forces caused to climate to cool crocodilian ranges started to shrink retreating from as far north as Wyoming
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to areas closer to the equator so perhaps Beaufort asuka's in cooler weather simply couldn't compete with all these new mammalian predators ancient crocodilians like Beaufort asuka's owed much of their success to the competition that took place within their own family which drove their evolutionary development after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs in the case of Grover asuka's that resulted in a crocodilian that could run on land on hood feet but when faced with the competition outside its family in a rapidly changing world in the end even this speedy reptile couldn't keep up thanks for joining me today in the Constantine hase studio and you might
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notice that I am wearing our first-ever yawns shirt complete with pocket and you can find them at dftba.com the link is in the description now Bofur Lucas was a fascinating reptile but you haven't seen anything until you've learned about the japan-us oars and the other strange reptiles are unique to the Triassic and you can do that right here [Music]

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