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It was a creature so outlandish that scientists say it reminds them of the fanciful beasts conjured up by Dr. Seuss. But would the famous children’s book author have thought up a marine reptile with a hammerhead snout it used to snack on algae?

Scientists on Friday announced the discovery in southern China of new fossils of a reptile from 242 million years ago called Atopodentatus that clarify the nature of this strange crocodile-size, plant-eating sea-dweller.

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