Adorable Alligatorellus

Today's alligators, crocodiles, and gharials are gorgeous animals, but you'd be hard pressed to call them cute. Chirpy little infants, maybe, but the exposed grins of the adults inspire more fear than adoring sighs. In the prehistoric past, however, there were crocs worth squeeing over. Alligatorellus was one of them.

I must admit that I hadn't heard of Alligatorellus until last week. The two-foot-long critter belonged to a relatively obscure group of crocodyliforms called atoposaurids, and is known from several skeletons found in the 152 million year old limestone of France and Germany. They're very pretty fossils, but they haven't exactly gotten the press that Archaeopteryx has enjoyed. Thankfully, ...

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