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New species of ancient crocodile found

The new species has been named "unexpected button-toothed crocodile" after the unusual way it was discovered

A new ancient species of crocodile has been discovered after two fossilised skull fragments from a 2 ft crocodile were found by different people on the Isle of Wight.

The 126 million-year-old snout and back part of the skull were found by separate private collectors three months apart, but staff at the Dinosaur Isle museum near Sandown found that the two pieces fitted together perfectly.

Diane Trevarthen discovered the skull segment on the beach near Sandown in March 2011, when she was searching for fossils on holiday with her family.

The museum advised her that it may belong to a large Cretaceous-era baby crocodile.

Three months later, when Austin and Finley Nathan found the snout piece while also on holiday, museum staff remembered the skull and contacted Ms Trevarthen. Both parties then agreed to donate their findings to the museum.

The animal has since been named “unexpected button-toothed crocodile” or Koumpiodontosuchus aprosdokiti, BBC News reported.

Dr Steve Sweetman, a palaeontologist at the University of Portsmouth, gave the creature its name in a paper published on the discovery in the ‘Acta Palaeontologica Polonica’ journal.

Dr Sweetman told BBC News: “Both parts of this wonderful little skull are in good condition, which is most unusual when you consider that crashing waves usually batter and blunt the edges of fossils like this within days or even hours of them being washed onto the beach.

"Both parts must therefore have been found very soon after they were released from the mud and debris originally laid down on a dinosaur-trampled river floodplain around 126 million years ago.

“The sheer serendipity of this discovery is quite bizarre," he added.