Madrid -It might have only measured two feet long, but a diminutive crocodile that walked with Dinosaurs, had sharp teeth.

A news species of crocodile that lived 126million years ago has been discovered after a pair of a pair of skull fragments were found three months apart. Two fragments of crocodile fossils were found by two different collectors and led to the discovery of the ancient button-toothed crocodile. Based upon the two fragments, which were pieced together on the Isle of Wight and together measure around 11cm long, the animal is thought to have been around 2ft long from nose to tail.

A piece from the back half of the crocodile’s skull was found on a beach near Sandown on the island by collector Diane Trevarthen. She was on a fossil-hunting holiday with her family and took the fragment straight to Dinosaur Isle museum in Sandown to show staff. At first, they thought it might be part of a skull belonging to a baby of one of the island’s known large Cretaceous crocodiles.

But that theory changed three months later when Austin and Finley Nathan, who were also fossil-hunting on the island, found another tiny fragment of skull in the same area.

They too took their find, which turned out to be a snout, to the museum and staff recalled that they had seen the back part of a similar small skull a few months before. Ms Trevarthen returned her part of the specimen to the museum after staff contacted her and it fitted perfectly together with the snout.

Both collectors have donated their specimens to the museum to allow scientific study of the complete skull. For now, the species has been named Koumpiodontosuchus aprosdokiti, which means the ‘unexpected button toothed crocodile.’

‘The collectors were simply walking along the beach looking for fossils when they saw these peculiar stones sitting on rocks, said University of Portsmouth palaeontologist Dr Steve Sweetman who has published a paper on the discovery in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

‘But the first collector realised it was a fossil when they saw teeth running along the side of it and the other picked up the snout months later. ‘The winter storms released them from the debris yet both parts of this wonderful little skull are in good condition. ‘This is most unusual when you consider crashing waves usually batter and blunt the edges of fossils like this within days or even hours of them being washed onto the beach. ‘Both parts must therefore have been found very soon after they were released from the mud and debris.’

He believes that the deposits would have originally been laid down on a dinosaur trampled river floodplain around 126 million years ago. ‘The sheer serendipity of this discovery is quite bizarre and finding the two parts is in itself remarkable,’ he said. ‘That they should be found three months apart by different collectors and taken to the museum where the same members of staff were on duty and therefore able to recall the first specimen defies belief.’

Dr Sweetman said teeth findings were first reported on the Isle of Wight in 1979 - but this is the first skull ever found.

Close relatives of the tiny crocodile, known as Bernissartia fagesii, have been found in Belgium and Spain. ‘At first I thought the skull belonged to a crocodile known as Bernissartia fagesii known from skeletons of a similar age discovered first in Belgium and later in Spain,’ Dr Sweetman said. ‘I was convinced it was a Bernissartia skull because of its small size - the fully grown animal was only a little over two feet long from nose to tail.

t’s button-shaped teeth are unique and they were used to crush mollusc shells and other invertebrates with tough outer coatings.’ However, closer examination soon revealed significant differences in the arrangement of bones - suggesting the skull may represent a new species. Dinosaur Isle’s Gary Blackwell prepared the lower part of the skull to free it of minerals, revealing palate bones and the inner opening of the airway from the nose. Dr Sweetman said: ‘The position of this was most unexpected. The location of the hole in the mouth, where the airway from the nose opens, was surrounded by bones at the very back of the palate. ‘This tells us the discovery is not only a new species but also a new genus of ancient croc closely related to, but subtly different to those alive today.’