When you think of crocodiles, you might think predators with sharp teeth that can cut through flesh. Interestingly, researchers have revealed that some of crocodiles’ relatives were in fact plant eaters.
In case you are wondering, carnivores have conical teeth while the herbivores have more complex teeth. On the other hand, omnivores, or animals that eat both meat and plans have somewhere in between.
During the course of the latest study, the researchers looked carefully at the collection from 16 extinct crocodyliforms. Although researchers noticed differences in the patterns, in the recently published paper, they determined the diets of the animals based on their dental measurements. According to the scientists, although some of the species were carnivorous similar to present day crocodiles, some were omnivorous and some were herbivorous.
The researchers said that the carnivorous crocodiles had pointed teeth. On the other hand, the herbivorous ones had bumpier teeth which were perfect for eating plants.
Lead researcher Keegan Melstrom said, “Our work demonstrates that extinct crocodyliforms had an incredibly varied diet. Some were similar to living crocodylians and were primarily carnivorous, others were omnivores and still others likely specialized in plants. The herbivores lived on different continents at different times, some alongside mammals and mammal relatives, and others did not. This suggests that an herbivorous crocodyliform was successful in a variety of environments!”
Following their latest discovery, the researchers revealed that they will continue their research to understand why the extinct relatives of crocodiles diversified so radically after one mass extinction but not another. Moreover, they will explore if ecology following a mass extinction played a major role in changing diets of the crocodiles.