Researchers have found world’s oldest crocodile eggs that were laid 152 million years ago. Discovered in the cliffs of Portugal, the eggs, were laid by close relatives of “true” crocodiles, a group called crocodylomorphs.
The remarkably well preserved eggs give an insight into the “mother croc” that laid them, researchers said. They are similar to the eggs of modern crocodiles, suggesting crocodile eggs have changed little in shape in the last 150 million years. Palaeontologists say the prehistoric crocodile ancestor would have spanned two meters, based on the size of the larger eggs.
Joao Russo from the Nova University of Lisbon in Portugal was quoted to the BBC as saying, “The fact that they are from the Late Jurassic period makes these eggs the oldest crocodilian eggs known so far.”
“This new discovery from Portugal extends the knowledge of this type of egg by approximately 40 million years.”
The study was published in PLOS One.
Crocodilians arose some 200 million years ago, when they prowled the land with early dinosaurs. Researcher said that it’s unclear why the crocodile eggs were in dinosaur nests, but it seems “to suggest some form of biological relationship.”
“The fossil record tells us that crocodiles and their relatives (forming the larger group of crocodylomorphs) were much more diverse in the past, with different feeding habits, ecological niche distribution or morphology,” Russo added.
The eggs were found over a number of years during excavations of a dinosaur nest near the village of Lourinha, north of Lisbon. They were found in several clutches and appear to be of two different types.