STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 May 2016

Rule of Thumb

Generally as a rule I attempt to stay away from Crocodylomorpha not because I do not like the taxa (I actually like a lot of reptiles generally speaking) within the group but because the lab I work in has a lot of crocodilian projects ongoing and I therefore hear a lot about crocodilians on a regular basis. However, lately a rather interesting crocodylomorph caught my attention and, as it has been described since 1959, discussing this fossil genus is way overdue for people that love extinct animals but have not heard of the genus Araripesuchus. Araripesuchus consists of six accepted species: A. gomesii Price, 1959 (type), A. wegeneri Buffetaut, 1981, A. patagonicus Ortega et al., 2000, A. buitreraensis Pol and Apesteguia, 2005, A. tsangatsangana Turner, 2006, and A. rattoides Sereno and Larsson, 2009. Disregarding all discussion over validity and placement of these taxa in relation to one another and other crocodyliforms, the most interesting individiual taxon in the genus is the well known and much lauded A. wegeneri. Slabs of multiple individuals of the species and the well preserved skulls and limbs of the individuals reveal a lot of information about the species and in turn the genus. Using these specimens we know that the teeth of the animals were heterdont and imply a diet that was at least omnivorous and at most completely herbivorous. The limbs tell us that this was a terrestrial crocodyliform able to walk upright in a more mammalian posture, very unlike its extant relatives.
A. wegeneri, ©Todd Marshall

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