In a rare fossil record in Asia, an international team of researchers identified footprints of bipedal crocodiles that lived between 110 and 120 million years ago.
A team of researchers from China, Australia, and the United States found that ancestral species of crocodiles walked on two hind legs – like dinosaurs – and were over 3 meters long. The study was published on June 11 in the journal Nature.
Paleontologist Anthony Romilio, from the University of Queensland, Australia, says that the team analyzed fossilized footprints found in South Korea. Initially, they thought the marks would be from pterosaurs, hence the surprise when they realized that they were actually crocodiles. “We now understand that these were bipedal crocodile prints,” said Romilio, in a note.
According to the researcher, the footprints measure approximately 24 centimeters, suggesting that the legs of the crocodiles were the same height as the legs of adult humans. “And while footprints were everywhere on the site, there were no handprints,” he said.
Led by Professor Kyung Soo Kim, from the National University of Education in Chinju, the researchers were quick to discover that the animal was walking on two legs. “When combined with the lack of any tail-drag marks, it became clear that these creatures were moving bipedally,” said Professor Kim.
Despite their similarity to bipedal dinosaurs, these crocodiles did not walk on their toes, but with their feet fully resting on the ground – just as we humans do. The footprints suggest that the animal lived between 110 and 120 million years ago. “Fossil crocodile tracks are quite rare in Asia, so finding an abundance of nearly one hundred footprints was extraordinary,” concluded Dr. Romilio.