Fossils of giant reptile declared national treasure
Rare fossils of Chalawan thailandicus, an extinct giant reptile from the late Jurassic period (150 million years ago) have been designated a national treasure by the Department of Mineral Resources.
The department’s registration of the fossils found in Nong Bua Lamphu and Mukdahan provinces as Thailand’s 44th national treasure due to their “rarity and special value” was published on the website of the Royal Gazette on Tuesday.
The first fossil of Chalawan thailandicus was a nearly complete lower jaw collected in the early 1980s from a road cut near Nong Bua Lamphu, in the upper part of the Phu Kradung Formation in Northeastern Thailand.
Thai and foreign palaeontologists determined that the fossil indicated that the reptile had distinctively different characteristics from the previously discovered Sunosuchus thailandicus and therefore assigned it to a new species called Chalawan thailandicus in 2013.
Paleontologists also said the referred cranial material suggested a possible skull length of 1.1 metres. The complete animal could reach over 10 metres in body length.
The name Chalawan is derived from the name of a male antagonist the Thai folktale of Krai Thong able to assume the form of a crocodile with diamond teeth.