Friday, December 31, 2010

Neptunidraco Saved from Interior Design Purgatory

NatGeo is running a pretty cool story about a new taxon of metriorhynchid - an aqautic branch of the crocodylian line - named from fossils discovered in a limestone slab destined for an Italian kitchen. First quarried in the fifties, the fossils were noticed by the homeowner and to his credit donated to the Giovanni Cappellini Geological Museum. Though a small member of the family - not outside of the size range of modern crocs - this predator of the ancient Tethys Sea is notable for being the earliest yet of the metriorhynchids, having hunted those waters about 200 million years ago.

Cau e il coccodrillo
The Neptunidraco slab with description co-author Andrea Cau. Photo courtesy Galileo Gallery, via flickr.

Head over to NatGeo for more, and tip of the hat to paleontologist Dan Chure of Dinosaur National Monument for sharing this with Vertebrate Paleontology Mailing List.

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