By Stan Lehman in São Paulo, Brazil
Associated Press

Feb 4, National Geographic

The fossil of a land-bound reptile that could be a link between prehistoric and modern-day crocodiles was put on public display for the first time yesterday.

Paleontologist Felipe Mesquita de Vasconcellos presented the 80-million-year-old predator, dubbed Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi, during a news conference at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. (Watch video of the croc being unveiled.)

The remains were found in 2004 near the small Brazilian city of Monte Alto, about 215 miles (346 kilometers) northwest of São Paulo.

The 5.5-foot-long (1.6-meter-long) Montealtosuchus was a long-limbed and extremely agile animal that roamed arid terrain in what is now the Brazilian countryside, de Vasconcellos said.

"As a missing link to prehistoric crocodiles, it offers us an excellent opportunity to study the evolutionary transition of these animals," de Vasconcellos said.

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photo: The fossil of a prehistoric reptile dubbed Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi was presented to the public for the first time at a news conference in Brazil on January 31, 2008. The 80-million-year-old terrestrial predator could be a "missing link" between prehistoric and modern-day crocodiles, researchers say (Photograph by Ricardo Moraes/AP Photo)