A Jurassic crocodile that lived around 180 million years ago has been identified by scientists - nearly 250 years after its remains were found.
The predator’s skull was found in a Bavarian town in the 1770s but boffins have only now discovered it was a beast called Mystriosaurus laurillardi.
The dinosaur croc lived in tropical waters during the Jurassic period, was more than four metres long.
Like its descendants, It had a long snout and pointed teeth, and preyed on fish.
For the past 60 years, it was thought the animal was part of a similar species, known as Steneosaurus bollensis, which existed around the same time.
However, scientists have now changed their minds thanks to new research.
Scientists identified the dinosaur by analysing fossils unearthed in the UK and Germany.
The team, which included scientists from the University of Edinburgh, also revealed another skull, discovered in Yorkshire in the 1800s, belongs to Mystriosaurus laurillardi.
Experts said the discovery of fossils in present-day Germany and the UK shows the species could easily swim between islands, like modern saltwater crocodiles.
Dr Mark Young, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “Unravelling the complex history and anatomy of fossils like Mystriosaurus is necessary if we are to understand the diversification of crocodiles during the Jurassic.
“Their rapid increase in biodiversity between 200 and 180 million years ago is still poorly understood.”
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The study, led by Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld in Germany, was published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica,
Sven Sachs, of the Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld, who led the study, said: “Mystriosaurus looked like a gharial but it had a shorter snout with its nasal opening facing forwards, whereas in nearly all other fossil and living crocodiles the nasal opening is placed on top of the snout.”