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Infant crocodile fossils unearthed at Arlington Archosaur Site

juvenile crocodile snout
A portion of the juvenile crocodile snout

Paleontologists have found the partial skull of an infant crocodile at the Arlington Archosaur Site, a prolific fossil site in north Arlington. The skull is a tiny version of the adult skull found at the site last summer.

The juvenile snout is three centimeters long, slightly more than one inch, compared to the adult snout, which was more than 15 centimeters long. The crocodiles lived nearly 100 million years ago.

In addition to the partial snout, crews have found baby scutes - the armored plates that cover the backs of crocodiles - teeth and tiny limb bones, said Derek Main, the University of Texas at Arlington doctoral student and lecturer who heads the project.

"We haven't found the whole baby yet, but the discovery is really exciting," Main said. "It's the first discovery of juvenile crocs from this time frame and this region."

To date, more dinosaur fossils have been recovered from the Arlington Archosaur Site than from any other site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The site lies within Cretaceous rocks, formed 95 million years ago when Arlington was the beachhead for a giant sea that divided the continent. The site has yielded fossils from various species of animals, including dinosaurs. A skeleton of a large herbivorous "duck-billed" dinosaur was excavated from the northern hillside at the site. Crocodile fossils are among the most commonly found.

Main said the site is unique because it is a major dinosaur excavation in the middle of a large A portion of the juvenile crocodile snout metropolitan setting and because it preserves many fossils from different animals. The site also has fossils from turtles, lungfish, fish and sharks.

The excavation of the Arlington Archosaur Site began in the spring of 2008 when the Huffines Group obtained the property and granted land access to UT Arlington. Visit www.arlingtonarchosaursite.comfor more information on the site.