A long controversy about the extinct “horned” crocodile has been resolved by the scientists of American Museum of Natural History. These horned crocodiles are believed to live along with the humans in Madagascar.
The researches done on the basis of the ancient DNA reveled that these were the “true”crocodile but belonged to different family tree of crocodiles.
These study were recently published in a journal that changed the perspective of evolution of crocodiles and also predicts that the ancestors of the modern day crocodiles were basically originated from Africa.
The author of the paper who is also a professor at Fordham University said that these crocodiles were somewhere hiding in the islands when pyramids were being built by the humans and also when the pirates landed into the lands. Also, they become extinct before the invention of the modern genomic tools but their remains provides a huge amount of information to understand the modern world crocodiles.
Around 9000 to 2500 years ago humans arrived in the Madagascar island which led to the extinction of many species like elephant birds, dwarf hippos, giant tortoise and many lemur species. Also during this period, the extinction of the Horned crocodile happened.
Even after 150 years of investigation, the position of the Horned crocodile is still unpredictable. In the year 1870’s it was placed along with the true crocodiles like Nile Crocodile, American Crocodile etc. But in early 20th century it was said that the Horned crocodile specimens were very old specimens of the Nile Crocodile. But a recent study in the year 2007 based on the specimen’s physical characteristics it was placed under the group of dwarf crocodiles and was concluded that they are not true crocodiles.
Several attempts were made to sequence the DNA of the Horned crocodile by the scientists to place the horned crocodiles in the evolutionary tree using the skull specimen of the horned crocodile that’s preserved in the museum since 1930’s.
Finally, the horned crocodiles are placed closed to the true crocodiles in the evolutionary tree making it the closes ancestor of the modern day crocodiles.