Friday, April 30, 2010

By the way...

I don't know about you, but I love the Arbor Day Foundation. Now, there is the Mach`s GrĂ¼n! effort, which has the Arbor Day Foundation plant a tree in Plumas National Forest in Northern California whenever someone posts the above link on their blog or website. I'm all about helping the environment, especially forests, and while I'd prefer to put more money into protecting existing forests, planting new trees is an excellent cause as well.

In other news, you may have noticed that I finished the post on Desmatosuchus, added a poll, and added an About page. If you haven't, check them out!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Meaning: "link crocodile"
Species: "D." haplocerus, D. spurensis, and D. smalli
Nominal Author: Case 1920
Age: Carnian(?)/ Norian (Late Triassic)
Location: Southwestern US (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona - Chinle and Dockum strata)
Physical Characteristics: Large (4+ meters) aetosaur. Typical aetosaur characteristics include an armored carapce arranged in four columns along the dorsal side, an upturned “pig-nosed” premaxilla, and stout forelimbs. Desmatosuchus is distinct in having large recurved spines on the posterior part of its neck.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Honor of Earth Day

Since it's earth day, I thought I would talk about an extant species of Crurotarsi, the America alligator (Alligator mississipiensis), and its importance to the everglades ecosystem.

The American alligator is considered a keystone species, meaning that it plays a vital role in its ecosystem (and can be used as an indicator of that ecosystem's health). The major contribution of the alligator is its "gator hole". Alligators dig their holes as refuges during the dry season, but these hole don't just serve the alligator. The gator holes are vital sources of water for fish, birds, turtles, and many other species, and they end up being a convenient source of food for the alligators. Alligators also provide a service through the building of their nests. Several turtle species rely on these nests to lay their own eggs.

The American alligator was put on the endangered species list in 1967. They were killed for their skin and also because they were considered a nuisance. However, after laws were passed to protect the alligators, they rebounded and were removed from the endangered species list in 1987.

Everglades NP - The American Alligator in Depth
The Keystone Species Concept

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1 week and counting.

So, yesterday marked 1 week for this blog and I am pretty pleased with the way things have been going. We've had visitors from over 12 states, 8 countries, and 4 continents! On that note, there are just a few people I want to thank for helping to get this blog going. First, David Tana over at Superoceras for inspiring me to start the blog. Second, Dr. Tom Holtz for first getting the word out on facebook. And last but not least, Bill Parker for spreading the word on his blog Chinleana. Thanks everyone!

As I have mentioned, I will be posting a weekly feature on a particular species each week (Prestosuchus was the first), but I will also intersperse posts about other issues surrounding Crurotarsi. I have been slowly adding to the Pictures and Resources pages. I am also working on an About page, and if I see there is a need, I will include some sort of glossary type page to explain some of the more technical paleo-lingo for the novice.

It's only been a week, so bear with me as the blog grows and evolves. I think we're off to a good start, but there's much more to come.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Meaning: "Presto's Crocodile"
Species: P. chiniquensis and P. loricatus
Nominal Author: Huene 1942
Age: Ladinian - Carnian (Middle/Late Triassic)
Location: Santa Maria Formation, Brazil
Physical Characteristics: Large (~5 meters) quadrupedal predator with an erect posture

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CAMP and the Triassic-Jurassic Extinction

A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week (online as of March 22) suggests that it was indeed the volcanism associated with CAMP (the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province) that was directly responsible for the end-Triassic extinction (and therefor, the extinction of many major groups of Crurotarsans). The findings show that the carbon isotope excursion (CIE) of the extinction occured simultaneously with the erruption of CAMP. The close relationship between the extinction, the eruptions, and the CIE is the strongest evidence yet presented for a volcanic cause for the Triassic-Jurassic extinction. Below, I list two news articles that discuss the paper. The full citation for the paper can be found on the resources page of this site.

Wired: Dinosaurs Rode Volcanic Armageddon to Victory
Discovery News: How Dinos Ruled The World

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gotta Love Taxonomy

I came across this (The 10 Lamest Dinosaur Names) and just wanted to thank Crurotarsan paleontologists for not getting too carried away in the naming of their discoveries.

But there is one Rauisuchian that I have to make fun of a little:


"Oh hell no! Here come da poposaurus! Stash the dope, yo!"

A Few Notes While I Get Myself Organized

As many of you know, there is a lot of information out there on Crurotarsans, so as I begin to wade through all that, I'd just like to say a few things.

As you may have noticed, I have added a page for pictures and a page for resources (academic papers, books, etc). They are in their very early stages of development, so bear with me, and if you wish to contribute, feel free.

Just a warning: the majority of my posts will focus on the Triassic representatives of our starring clade. Afterall, the Triassic was when they were at their most numerous and diverse. But for those of you who prefer the post-Triassic crocs, you will not be forgotten. I could never leave out such cool critters like Thalattosuchia and Pristichampsus.

I plan on having a few weekly or monthly themed posts. For instance "The Weekly Crurotarsan" where I feature a single species. I'm not sure about the title, but you get the idea. "Crurotarsan" doesn't always flow off the tounge so nicely. I tend to trip over the 'r's myself. But what would replace it? "Crurotarsan" doesn't lend itself to a nickname very easlily, unlike say "Dinosaur" which is so readily shortend to "dino". I could always use "croc", but I feel like that should be reserved strictly for Crocodylomorphs... but I digress.

Just sit back, relax, and prepare yourselves for some awesome extinct archosaur action.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome. An Intro to Crurotarsi.

Hi everybody!

I present, as my first entry, a brief introduction to the great clade, Crurotarsi.

Crurotarsans are some pretty amazing animals, having occupied almost every major ecological niche during the Triassic Period, a time that lasted almost 50 million years (251 Ma to 201.6 Ma). They still survive today as crocodiles, alligators, and their relatives but are nowhere near as diverse and impressive as their ancestors. Named by Paul Sereno in 1991, Crurotarsi means "cross-ankles" based on the way their ankles articulate compared to their sister taxon, Avemetatarsalia (Dinosaurs, Pterosaurs, etc). Although the taxonomy is still disputed some of the groups that make up this clade include Phytosaurs, Aetosaurs, Rauisuchians, Poposaurids, and Crocodylomorphs.