UT Austin researchers find new crocodile ancestor

An ancient, massively armored crocodile is being studied at the University of Texas at Austin.


UT claims that aetosaurs, the presumed omnivore relatives of carnivore crocodiles, controlled the planet before dinosaurs. 


Their fossils have been recovered on every continent except Antarctica and Australia since they became extinct 200 million years ago.


Scientists utilize aetosaurs' bone armor plates to identify species, but they have little data. 


However, UT Austin researchers presented a study on an aetosaur suit of armor that is 70% complete and covers all key body regions.


The research was led by UT Jackson School of Geoscience doctoral student William Reyes. He said this costume includes the aetosaur's back, shoulders, and tail. 


Armor helped researchers identify the specimen as Garzapelta muelleri, a new aetosaur species. UT stated "Garza" comes from Garza County, 


 where the fossils were unearthed, "pelta" means shield, and "muelleri" commemorates Bill Mueller, the paleontologist who discovered them.


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