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Tajik giant alligators drove American relatives away from the family

Scientists at the St. Petersburg State University together with a colleague from the Smithsonian Institution (USA) conducted a comprehensive analysis of the remains of the reptile Kansajsuchus extensus, which was found near the Kansai village of the Sughd Region of Tajikistan. The analysis showed that the animal belonged to the family Paralligatoridae, and not to the family Goniopholididae, as was believed until recently. The scientific article is published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
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Kansajsuchus extensus is a crocodile fossil reptile, the remains of which were found in 1975 in Central Asia. The animal has been believed previously to belong to the family of Goniopholididae, but the analysis of the new findings showed that they had a number of traits characteristic of another family — Goniopholididae. The latter family is a closer relative of modern crocodiles than Goniopholididae.

The scientists also found out that the Paralligatoridae were characterised by a special structure of osteoderms (formations of ossified skin along the spine) — they had outgrowths that were shifted to the back and were arranged in four rows. Other reptiles previously thought to belong to the family Paralligatoridae, which had been found in Africa, Europe, and America, did not have such features, so the authors of the study suggested that Kansajsuchus extensus should be excluded from the family.

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