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Jurassic crocodile relative could breathe easily while drowning its prey

Around 155 million years ago in what is now Wyoming, a crocodile relative clamped its jaws around a thrashing animal and dragged it below the water’s surface, and the ancient reptile could still breathe comfortably as its prey slowly drowned.

That’s because the croc had specialized structures that prevented water from flowing through its mouth and into its airway. This feature is known in modern crocodilians — crocodiles and their close relatives — and scientists recently identified the same mechanism in a newly described species of croc cousin that lived during the Jurassic period (201.3 million to 145 million years ago).

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