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March 6 2013

Ancient seaways carried crocodilians to South America

Crocodilian fossil skulls found in the Panama Canal may provide the missing link between the mouthy reptiles of North America and their kin in South America, scientists say.

The skulls belong to two new species of ancient crocodilians (a group that today contains alligators, crocodiles, caimans and gharials) that lived about 20 million years ago during the Miocene epoch. These new findings, detailed in the March issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, suggest these alligator brethren slinked between the continents using ancient seaways much earlier than once thought.

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