New York: An extinct reptile related to crocodiles that lived approximately 212 million years ago in present day New Mexico has been identified as a new species by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
Lead researcher Emily Lessner named the species Vivaron haydeni in a paper published in the journal PeerJ.
Vivaron haydeni was found in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, in 2009 during an excavation co-led by Sterling Nesbitt, then a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, and now Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech.
The fossil represents the sixth species of rauisuchid found thus far. Vivaron is distinguishable by its upper jaw bone, which is smoother in appearance than other rauisuchid species.
Vivaron was a carnivorous archosaur — a large set of animals that includes crocodilians and dinosaurs, as mammals includes humans and dogs.
Vivaron itself measured 12 to 18 feet long, and walked on four legs. Thus far, three jaw bones, other skull fragments, and hip-bones from at least three individuals – two large, one smaller – have been found.
“These were some of the biggest predators at the time, all dinosaurs were much smaller,” added Nesbitt, speaking of the Triassic Period, more than 200 million years ago.