EGU Blogs


Nessie dwarfed by new Scottish crocodile

Yes, Nessie had to be in the title. Am I sorry? A little. But not enough to not use it.

Colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and myself have described the first Scottish crocodile fossil! It’s from the Isle of Skye, from a time known as the Middle Jurassic, and dates back around 160 million years ago. Based on a partial bit of a jawbone (the dentary), it’s hardly the most spectacular fossil we’ve ever found, but it tells quite a neat story.

Based on the features we could identify of the jawbone, we were able to identify the specimen as belonging to Theriosuchus. This genus has quite a complicated history, and currently 5 species are assigned to it that span some 100 million years! That’s pretty long lived for a single genus. Theriosuchus belongs to a group known as Atoposauridae, which based on our current understanding went extinct along with the non-avian dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period.

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New ‘fish lizard’ used to prowl the Scottish seas

New ‘fish lizard’ used to prowl the Scottish seas

A cool new ichthyosaur – a type of marine reptile – has just been named in the Scottish Journal of Geology. I’ve written about it here, with some great comments from the lead author (Steve Brusatte). Most reports on the new beastie just focus on the finding, but we’ve gone for a different angle by delving into what it means for the evolution of ichthyosaurs during the Jurassic period. Enjoy!

In the mean time, enjoy this maybe-photoshopped reconstruction by James Lewis. Original artwork by Todd Marshall.