Crocodiles that Swam to America

By Brayden Yin

An extinct species of  African crocodile and the American Crocodiles have recently been shown to have much more in common than a reptilian look.

An analysis of a 7 million year old skull shows that the crocodiles may have traveled to America. The fossil was found in the 1930s, in what is now Libya. With CT scanning, the scientists studying the matter found that “it really looks like an American true crocodile, but it comes from Africa,” said Massimo Delfino, a paleoherpetologist at the University of Turin in Italy.

Scientists suspected that crocs long ago lived in one of the continents before swimming to the other. However, the fossil record didn’t show which species moved to which continent. This crocodile, called Crocodylus checchia, has skull features that puts the C. Checchia at the bottom of the American crocodile evolutionary tree. It also fills a bridge between the four American crocodile species and the Nile Crocodile

Tectonic plate movement moves the continents around over time, and when the crocodiles swam to the Americas, the continents were actually very close together. The crocodiles can survive saltwater and travel for miles, when the ocean currents are at their aid.

With these facts, it is possible that C. Checchia swam to America.



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