A PREHISTORIC crocodile skull discovered in Swanage has been declared a new species and named after Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.

The 130million-year-old fossil specimen, goniopholis kiplini, was found three years ago by Richard Edmonds from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team.

But it has only just been recognised as an example of an entirely new species, in the acclaimed Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, after being studied by experts and scanned at Bristol University.

The animal, which would have lived in the shallow lagoon covering much of Purbeck during the early Cretaceous period, existed alongside the dinosaurs.

It was named after Kipling because of the author’s enthusiasm for natural sciences.

Mr Edmonds said: “Despite more than 200 years of collecting, specimens new to science continue to be found on this eroding coastline.

“The fossil record is far from complete although the chance of a creature like this being fossilised is slim.

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

Experts believe goniopholis kiplini lived among other crocodiles, turtles and fish.

The skull has been donated to the Dorset County Museum by Swanage Town Council and Dorset County Council. It is now on display alongside the larger pliosaur skull.

Bristol University professor Mike Benton said: “This stunning specimen shows 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 is wonderful to see a new species coming out.

“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.”

Mr Edmonds excavated the skull with local collectors Steve Etches and Chris Moore.