A significant discovery has been made by a Brazilian scientist who identified fossils of a small reptile resembling a crocodile that lived millions of years before dinosaurs appeared. The remains of this predator, known as Parvosuchus aurelioi, were uncovered in southern Brazil and include a complete skull, 11 vertebrae, the pelvis, and some limb bones. Rodrigo Muller, a paleontologist from the Federal University of Santa Maria in Rio Grande state, announced this finding after publishing his research in the journal Scientific Reports. Parvosuchus, meaning “small crocodile,” existed around 237 million years ago, measuring about one meter in length and preying on smaller reptiles. It belonged to the extinct Gracilisuchidae family, previously known only from Argentina and China, which Muller described as exceptionally rare in the fossil record and intriguing due to their existence just before dinosaurs emerged.

Parvosuchus represents an early offshoot of the Pseudosuchia lineage, which later evolved into modern crocodiles. Living during a period of significant evolutionary change after Earth’s worst mass extinction event 252 million years ago, various groups of reptiles vied for dominance before dinosaurs became predominant. The Gracilisuchidae family, to which Parvosuchus belonged, saw its last undisputed members perish about seven million years before dinosaurs first appeared. Muller emphasized that the discovery of Parvosuchus aurelioi enriches our knowledge of ancient biodiversity and provides crucial insights into the development of crocodiles and dinosaurs. This finding underscores the importance of continuous paleontological research in unraveling Earth’s intricate history.