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Still Waters

Fossils of crocodile relative found in Texas

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Still Waters

SOME 96 MILLION years ago, the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, were part of a lush river delta that was home to turtles, dinosaurs, fish—and a bizarre creature that looked like a crocodile but may have eaten like an opossum.

The newfound animal, Scolomastax sahlsteini, is a crocodyliform, an extinct, distant cousin of today's crocodiles and alligators. It grew about three to six feet long, and its right lower jaw implies that it had fewer teeth than related crocodiles. Its teeth also seem to have come in several different shapes.

These traits are consistent with living animals that crunch on hard foods or eat a varied diet, which suggests that Scolomastax may well have been omnivorous.


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My dad was a geologist.  When I was a kid we used to go fossil hunting around Dallas, mostly in limestone and shale.  We found a lot of shells, a lot of shark teeth, and a some crinoid stems.  It was great fun.  He stopped at every highway road cut to see what was exposed.

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