Scientists in Australia claim they have discovered a new species of crocodile whose last meal could have been a dinosaur.
The fossilised crocodile – dubbed Broken Dinosaur Killer – was found on a sheep station in outback Queensland, and is believed to be over 95 million years old.
Researchers were left gobsmacked when they discovered the partial remains of a young ornithopod dinosaur inside the crocodile's stomach.
Matt White from The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum branded the discovery "extraordinary".
"This is the first time that a crocodile has been discovered with dinosaur remains in its stomach," Dr White said.
"It's a world first."
The fossil was discovered in 2010 by palaeontologists, and took more than six years to piece together.
Incredibly, it's the first skeletal remains of an ornithopod ever reported in the region and the first evidence that crocodiles ate dinosaurs in Australia.
Dr White continued: "This prehistoric crocodile and its last meal will continue to provide clues to the relationships and behaviours of animals that inhabited Australia millions of years ago."
There is evidence that ornithopods, which were small plant eaters with beaks and cheeks full of teeth, roamed Earth more than 100 million years ago.
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"Ornithopods were very cute little dinosaurs, probably a little bit bigger than a chicken at about 1.2 kilograms," Dr White said.
"It would have looked something like Ducky from The Land Before Time.
"So you can imagine poor little Ducky crawling up onto the side of the bank and then a crocodile coming up and chomping it."
Because the bones were too fragile to be removed from the ground by conventional methods, new technology was used by researchers to construct an X-ray image of the fossil.
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The scanned data files were then used by Dr White to digitally prepare the specimen so that a 3D reconstruction of the bones could be made.
"The technology that we're using is drawing new life into what we can see within these fossils," Dr White said.
"We may have other fossils out there around the world that actually have remains in their stomach and this new technology may help us discover that.
"It's going to change how things are done."
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