Typothorax, an armored herbivorous crocodile Typothorax, an armored herbivorous crocodile

2011-06-20 13:56:10

Crocodiles and birds are the only current representatives of the archosaur group, whose best-known extinct members are the dinosaurs. But during the Triassic period, before dinosaurs became the dominant terrestrial vertebrates, there were other groups of archosaurs that also enjoyed some evolutionary success. One such group was the ethosaurs, armored herbivorous reptiles related to crocodiles, whose best-known representative is Typothorax.

Ethosaurs, along with carnivorous rauisuchians and certain primitive crocodile-like amphibians, were the dominant fauna on the supercontinent of Pangea during the late Triassic period. But already then the groups began to appear that, in the following period, the Jurassic, would take over: dinosaurs, crocodiles, mammalian reptiles and modern amphibians and reptiles.

The first remains of Typothorax were discovered in New Mexico over a hundred years ago by the American paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope. Although Typothorax fossils are relatively abundant in the states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, they are mostly plates from its armor; until very recently, two almost complete skeletons have not been discovered and, what is more important, articulated, with the bones in the same position as they were in the animal’s life. This has allowed paleontologists to reconstruct their anatomy, their appearance, and their way of life.

In addition, the study of the anatomy of the foot of Typothorax has made it possible to confirm the association of the fossil footprints called Brachychirotherium, found in Triassic fossil deposits in Europe, North America, and South America, with ethosaurs.


The Morphology and Ontogeny of Typothorax coccinarum (Archosauria, Stagonolepididae) from the Upper Triassic of the American Southwest

Articulated skeletons of the aetosaur Typothorax coccinarum Cope (Archosauria: Stagonolepididae) from the Upper Triassic Bull Canyon Formation (Revueltian: early-mid Norian), eastern New Mexico, USA #Typothorax #armored #herbivorous #crocodile


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