In Crocodile Evolution, the Bite Came Before the Body

Today the crush of a crocodile’s mighty jaws signals lights-out for many a fish or other water-loving animal. But according to a new study, the croc’s characteristic jaws evolved on dry land–and long before its swim-tuned body.

The finding stems from the discovery of a well-preserved fossil of an ancestor of crocodilians in northwestern China. A crocodilian is any member of an order of reptiles that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gavials, and related extinct forms.