There’s a newly published study that reveals something unexpected about crocodiles. It seems that prehistoric crocodiles used to act more like modern-day whales and dolphins, according to the latest discoveries about the inner-ear sensory system.
Researchers analyzed CT-scans of fossils of the extinct crocodiles which are known as thalattosuchia.
Experts found that these crocodiles developed such balance and equilibrium that allowed them to spend significant amounts of time in the oceans.
“We find that open-ocean thalattosuchians developed strikingly compact and thickened bony labyrinth after a long semiaquatic phase and after modifying their skeleton to become better swimmers,” according to the study’s abstract, as quoted by Fox News.
The website continued and revealed more data: “This differs from cetaceans, which miniaturized their bony labyrinths soon after entering the water. Therefore, thalattosuchians and cetaceans took different evolutionary paths from land to water.”
Ancient crocodiles used to be really different
More than that, researchers also noted that the ancient crocodiles used to have limbs that evolved into flippers and they also used to have streamlined tails that were helping them move through the water.
Fox News also mentioned an interview with The Guardian with the study’s author – the University of Edinburgh graduate student Julia Schwab.
She said the discovery is “key to understand how ancient animals lived.”
She continued and explained that “We found that marine crocodile relatives have a very unique inner-ear shape, similar to other water-living reptiles and today’s whales.”
It’s been also revealed that one of the co-authors of the study, Stephen Brusatte said that the ancient crocodiles also developed some unusual inner ears after modifying their skeletons in order to become better swimmers.
Fox News revealed that the whales also changes their ears in a similar way, but they did it soon after they entered the water.
It really looks like the crocs and whales took pretty similar yet different evolutionary routes from land to water.