Komsorn Lauprasert, a scientist at Mahasarakham University, said the species had longer legs than modern-day crocodiles and probably fed on fish, based on the characteristics of its teeth.
"They were living on land and could run very fast," said Komsorn, who noticed the skull fossil in a museum in the summer of 2006. The 6-inch-long (15-centimeter-long) fossil was originally retrieved from an excavation site in Nakhon Rathchasima province, also known as Korat, but had not been identified as belonging to a distinct species.
The species has been named "Khoratosuchus jintasakuli," after Korat province, where the fossil was found, and the last name of the director of the Northeastern Research Institute of Petrified Wood and Mineral Resources, Pratueng Jintasakul.
The finding has been published a peer-reviewed publication of The Geological Society of London.
Northeastern Thailand has become an important site for paleontologists in recent decades. Numerous prehistoric fossils have been found in Thailand's so-called dinosaur belt, where fossil-rich Mesozoic-era sedimentary rock has been thrust to the surface.
Thai and French scientists began conducting joint research in the area in 1980 after a geologist seeking uranium found a dinosaur thigh bone in the late 1970s.