Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Call for Feet

I'm taking a break this week from my featured species post because life is just too busy. In the mean time, I would like to ask for a little help from you all. I am looking for a good picture of the full, articulated foot and ankle of a crurotarsan. If anyone has a good picture, a paper with a good picture or schematic, or access to a specimen that they can photograph, I would greatly appreciate it if you would contact me. I am an artist in my spare time and as such, I would like to create a logo for the blog (and what better logo than a crurotarsan ankle), but the scientist in me wants to get it as accurate as possible.

Also, there have been several more articles popping up about the Prestosuchus recently found in Brazil. It is the first specimen found with a well preserved hind leg, which should give a lot of insights into how this animal moved and it's phylogenetic relationship to other rauisuchians. The fossil was found in a formation that was once a lake, which may give us some clues as to how Prestosuchus lived.

Lastly, I just got my first mailing about the 70th annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists.  The meeting will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA at the Westin Convention Center, October 10th through 13th and is hosted by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Type of Geosaurus giganteus (Von Sommerring 1816)(from Young and Andrade 2009)

(sensu Yound and Andrade 2009)
Meaning: "earth lizard"
Species: G. giganteus (type - von Sommerring 1816 as Lacerta giganteus), G. grandis (Wagner 1858), G. lapparenti (Debelmas and Strannoloubsky 1957), G. carpenteri (Wilkinson et al 2008)
Nominal Author: Cuvier 1824
Age: Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous
Location: Europe (incl. UK and Germany)
Physical Characteristics: a short snouted marine crocodyliform (thalattosuchia)

Friday, May 14, 2010

No Love for the Paleogene

The results for the second poll are in. So, which Crurotarsan time period was your favorite? No surprise, it was the Triassic. But the rest of the results were a little more interesting. In second place was the Cretaceous Period (which I am going to somehow blame on Tom Holtz). Really surprising was the time period in 3rd place, which wasn't actually a period, but an era, and it wasn't even a Crurotarsan era. It was the Paleozoic! I'm just wondering, who comes to a Crurotarsan themed blog and votes in a poll for an option that starts with the phrase "screw Crurotarsans"? Well, we're glad you're here anyway, even if we're not sure why. The Jurassic came in 4th place with a measly 5%. Tied for 5th were the Neogene and anything-but-the-Phanerozoic (same question to these people: you do realize this is a blog about critters from the Phanerozoic?). And for whatever reason, the Paleogene got no votes. NONE! Nada. Niet.

Well, I'm pretty perplexed at some of you, but as I said, I'm glad to have you anyway. Stay tuned for more polls and more hot Crurotarsan action!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nearly Complete Prestosuchus Found

I got the word yesterday from Marcel Lacerda of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Instituto de Geociências, that a nearly complete skeleton of Prestosuchus has recently been found in southern Brazil.  You can read the original article (in Portuguese) here, or, I have made my attempt at translating it into English below.

"Brazilian researchers found the fossil of a prehistoric predator in excellent condition near a town 260 km from Porto Alegre. A reptile, classified as Prestosuchus chiniquensis, lived 240 million years ago, before the appearance of the dinosaurs. It is the most well preserved fossil of the major predator of the Middle Triassic. A paleontologist of the Universidade Luterana do Brasil (Ulbra) Sergio Cabreira and a biologist, Lucio Roberto da Silva combed a ravine where two fossil vertebrae had already been found; they then saw the should blade of a Prestosuchus recently uncovered by the rains. After they removed some of the sediment, they uncovered parts of the skull, forearms, and chest.

Prestosuchus belonged to a group of basal archosaurs - predators that preceded the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and crocodiles in the tree of evolution. Morphologically, the fossil is more similar to an alligator; it walked on all fours, had a long tail, and a long snout. But it walked upright. Researchers estimate that it weighed 1 ton and was about 7 meters long and 1.5 meters tall."

Not the most scientific of articles (especially the part about Prestosuchus living BEFORE dinosaurs appeared), but a good briefing on such a recent discovery. Prestosuchus is probably my favorite extinct animal (and I'm guessing you're all fans as well), so it will be very exciting to see this develop. Would you just look at that beautiful skeleton!

Thank you Marcel! I hope my translation was fairly accurate.

Also, don't forget to cast your vote for your favorite Crurotarsan time period! The poll closes early Friday morning.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Arizonasaurus babbitti. Scale bar = 0.5 meters. (Nesbitt 2005)

Meaning: "Arizona lizard"
Species: A. babbitti
Nominal Author: Welles 1947
Age: early Middle Triassic (Anisian - 240 Ma)
Location: Arizona, southwestern USA (Moenkopi Formation)
Physical Characteristics: a large (3+ meters) sail-backed predator (Rauisuchian)

Friday, May 7, 2010

And the winner is...

The poll for "which name do you prefer?" is closed and the results are in. Crurotarsi wins by a landslide with 72% of the votes, followed up by Pseudosuchia with a modest 22%, and Crocodylotarsi with a mere 6%. Obviously, this doesn't resolve any of the issues in the nomenclature, but it gives me a nice view of the readership. Surely, these results are biased. How many people who dislike the term "Crurotarsi" are going to come to a blog with such a name in the title? But clearly there are enough, since 28% of the votes were anti-Crurotarsi. Although the results of this poll may show a bias, I feel a review of the literature may reveal similar skewing in favor of "Crurotarsi", but we shall see.

In other news, I arrived home on Wednesday, after a Cinco de Mayo get together with 2 of my favorite Paleontologists, to a wonderful sight. In my front hallway was a book-shaped package from Amazon and inside was my copy of Triassic Life on Land: The Great Transition by H-D Seus and Nicholas Fraser.

It came out at the end of last month and I have been dying to get my hands on a copy. I have only had the time to browse through it, but it looks pretty Trias-tastic. It is definitely more technical than Fraser's previous book Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Life in the Triassic, without all the pretty paintings by Douglas Henderson, but with the benefit of more up-to-date information.

FYI, if any of you buy one of the above books (or any Amazon product linked to on this website, like on the Resources page) from a link on this website, I get a small portion of the sale. So start buying some Triassic literature and support your favorite crurotarsan-themed blog!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Meaning: "wrinkle tooth"
Species: R. carolinensis, R. manhattanensis (?)
Nominal Author: Emmons 1856
Age: Middle Carnian (Triassic)
Location: Eastern US (North Carolina, possibly New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
Physical Characteristics: Piscivorous phytosaur of 3 to 8 meters in length with a gavial-like long, slender snout. Skull can be identified by slight posterior depression of the supratemporal fenestra and homodont dentition. Nares are positioned at the highest point on the skull.