Dorset

Rudyard Kipling inspires naming of prehistoric crocodile

  • 20 March 2012
  • From the section Dorset
Fossilised crocodile skull
The specimen is now on display at Dorset County Museum

A newly-discovered species of prehistoric crocodile has been named after the writer Rudyard Kipling.

The 130-million-year-old specimen, now calledGoniopholis Kiplingi, was found in Swanage, Dorset, by the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team in 2009.

It was named after The Jungle Book author in recognition for his enthusiasm for natural sciences.

Richard Edmonds, the team's earth science manager, said finds continued to show up on the eroding coastline.

The crocodile lived in a shallow lagoon covering large parts of Purbeck during the early Cretaceous period.

Its skull was loaned to Bristol University for scanning.

'Stunning specimen'

Professor Mike Benton, from the university, said: "On a damp, wintry day in Swanage, we have to imagine a world of lush tropical trees, balmy hot lagoons, and crocodiles of all sizes swimming and snapping lazily at dinosaurs on the sea shore.

"This stunning specimen shows that there's plenty of life in the Dorset Jurassic - these must be some of the most heavily collected rocks in the world, and yet it's wonderful to see a new species coming out."

TheGoniopholis Kiplingihas now been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

The specimen is presently on display at Dorset County Museum.

Mr Edmonds added: "The fossil record is far from complete although the chance of a creature such as this being fossilised is very slim.

"People will still be making new discoveries 200 years from now."

Rudyard Kipling lived from 1865 to 1936.

He is known for The Jungle Book, which has been adapted into several films, including the 1967 Disney animation.

His other works include Just So Stories and Kim, and the short story The Man Who Would Be King.

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