// archives

Triassic Dinosaurs

This category contains 1 post

10 April 2017: Critical Fossil Record Gap Filled in Chinese Phytosaurs

A small, short-snouted fossilized reptile skeleton from China has been identified as the oldest known phytosaur, an extinct group of Triassic period semi-aquatic reptiles similar to crocodilians,that lived 250 to 200 million years ago. Diandongosuchus fuyuanensis had originally been classified as a poposaurid – more closely related to crocodiles – but the shape of the fossilized animal’s head, shoulder and skeleton linked it to phytosaurs instead. The findings fill in a critical gap in how the animal evolved, because this fossil is 5 million years older than other phytosaur fossils. The short snout and small body size of this early phytosaur also show that the characteristic long snout and large body size came to evolve later than previously believed.

The research was published in Scientific Reports on 10 April 2016.

Journal Reference: Michelle R. Stocker, Li-Jun Zhao, Sterling J. Nesbitt, Xiao-Chun Wu, Chun Li. A Short-Snouted, Middle Triassic Phytosaur and its Implications for the Morphological Evolution and Biogeography of PhytosauriaScientific Reports, 2017; 7: 46028 DOI: 10.1038/srep46028

 Fossilized Skull of Diandongosuchus fuyuanensis