Thursday, December 9, 2010
Simosuchus - JVP Memoir 10
Those of us who have payed any attention to the evolutionary history of crocodilians cringe when we hear them referred to as "living fossils". With the release of the new Memoir from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, this phrase is being thrown a round a lot. I generally detest the use of phrases like "living fossil" or "missing link" for many reasons. One article from the BBC was particularly hard to read, with statements like the following, making it sound like it is breaking news that crocs have a diverse evolutionary history.
"Yet contrary to popular belief, scientists now suggest that the basic body structure of crocodiles, alligators and ghariels evolved from a diverse group of prehistoric reptiles with different body shapes." - Ella Davies, BBC News
Even the press release from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology had me worried for a moment. But I shouldn't allow misnomers to distract from the real news. The new Memoir, focusing on the pug-nosed Simosuchus, promises a great overview of crocodylimform anatomy.
'As strange as Simosuchus was, the incredible completeness and preservation of its fossils, coupled with an equally impressive scientific investigation, have yielded one of the most comprehensive volumes of crocodyliform anatomy ever to be published. “Very few crocodyliforms – even those alive today – have been subjected to this level of analysis,” said Brochu. “This reference is going to be used for decades.”' - SVP press release
I will post a more thorough description of Simosuchus and the new Memoir once I have received it in the mail.
D. W. Krause and N. J. Kley (eds.), Simosuchus clarki (Crocodyliformes: Notosuchia) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir 10. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(6, Supplement).