How crocodiles survived 200 million years and survived dinosaurs



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Birds today evolved from dinosaurs. Humans evolved from fish. But the crocodiles? They were built to last from the start.

New research by British scientists at the University of Bristol adds to the evidence that the mighty crocodile has existed largely unchanged for 200 million years, having outlived dinosaurs and countless other plant and animal species that have were wiped out by an asteroid that crashed in the Yucatán Peninsula. 66 million years ago.

It is their environmental versatility and physical efficiency that enabled them to survive one mass extinction and two ice ages.

“‘Crocodiles have landed on a lifestyle versatile enough to adapt to the huge environmental changes that have taken place since dinosaurs have existed,” said lead author of the study Max Stockdale. “This could explain why the crocodiles survived the impact of meteors in the late Cretaceous, during which the dinosaurs perished.”

Unlike most animals, crocodiles thrive in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, with the ability to hold their breath for up to an hour. They do best in warm conditions, as the cold-blooded reptile depends on external factors for thermoregulation and can survive months or even years without food, drawing its energy from the sun and staying low while it plans its next meal.

crocodile
Getty Images / iStockphoto

Their bodies are strong and resilient, built to sustain significant injuries. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a person to lose their legs in a turf battle and then continue to live a long life of between 70 and 100 years.

Crocodiles have undergone evolutionary changes, but their transformation has occurred as a ‘stop-start’ model, in which broad changes in the species have occurred in spurts under more favorable ecological conditions. , according to new research published in Nature Communications Biology.

“It is fascinating to see how a complex relationship exists between the Earth and the living things we share it with,” Stockdale said.

For example, the warm climate during the time of the dinosaurs was the perfect setting for a variety of types of crocodiles to evolve: giant fangs, vegetarian fangs, and snake-like sea fangs, to name a few. These specialized versions eventually gave way to the more streamlined species of today, which is why they have been dubbed the “Ultimate Survivors”.

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