Rare prehistoric fossil found on Scottish island

A rare prehistoric fossil found on a Scottish island could significantly advance scientists' understanding of the area.

The 170 million-year-old jawbone from a dog-sized crocodile-like creature is one of the only found anywhere in the world.

The small fossil, measuring just over 3.5cm in length, was discovered on the Isle of Skye almost 30 years ago, but recent scans of the rock containing the bone unlocked its secrets.

The 170 million-year-old jawbone from a dog-sized crocodile-like creature is one of the only found anywhere in the world. Pictured, the fossil as it was found within a rock

The 170 million-year-old jawbone from a dog-sized crocodile-like creature is one of the only found anywhere in the world. Pictured, the fossil as it was found within a rock

The small fossil measures just over 3.5cm in length. Pictured, A reconstruction of the jaw

The small fossil measures just over 3.5cm in length. Pictured, A reconstruction of the jaw

The island is one of the few places in the world where fossils from the Middle Jurassic Period can be found.

Using high-resolution X-rays scientists from the University of Edinburgh were able to investigate the tiny bone found at Duntulm Castle in the north of the island.

Through examining the fossil, and others previously found on Skye, they suggest that the 'scaly dog' animal is from a family of close crocodile relatives.

Known as neosuchians, these creatures were becoming more diverse on the island's shores at the time.

Dr Steve Brusatte, from the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, said: 'Bits and pieces of fossil crocodiles have been found on Skye before, but this is one of the nicer fossils, because it is a nearly complete jawbone.

'It tells us that small, dog-sized crocodiles lived in the lagoons of ancient Skye, during the same time dinosaurs were living on land.

'These were very ancient, very primitive relatives of today's crocodiles.

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