Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prehistoric Animal of the Week: Postosuchus

This week, we've got something from my favorite group of animals. Let's pump our fists for this week's prehistoric animal of the week, Postosuchus!

Postosuchus life restoration: Christopher DiPiazza
Postosuchus (sp.)
Postosuchus means "crocodile from Post". Its name refers to Post Quarry of Garza, Texas, where many fossils of this animal were found. Postosuchuswas a four-legged animal. It was about 4-5 meters long (12-15 feet). It was a primitive archosaur that lived during the Late Triassic (228-202 million years ago). It would have lived in what is now North America. Postosuchus was a rauisuchian, which are close relatives to dinosaurs and are more related to crocodiles. As a hunter, Postosuchus would have preyed on dicynodonts (such as Lystrosaurusand Placerias) and other creatures smaller than itself (such as Coelophysis). Postosuchus was the apex predator of its day.


Postosuchus skeletal mount


Postosuchus would have walked in an erect stance, unlike crocodiles of today. Due to the short forelimbs it's possible that Postosuchus was a facultative biped, being able to run on two legs for short stretches of time possibly. The skull of Postosuchus was narrow in the front and extended wide and deep, sort of like the skull of theropod dinosaurs. Postosuchus also possessed different size and shape of its teeth, making it a heterodont. 

That does it for this week! See you next week everybody!

References
Novak, Stephanie E. (2004). "A new specimen of Postosuchus from the Late Triassic Coelophysis Quarry, siltstone member, Chinle Formation, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico". M.S. thesis, Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Weinbaum, Jonathan C. (2002). "Osteology and relationships of Postosuchus kirkpatricki (Archosauria: Crurotarsi)". M.S. thesis, Texas TechUniversity, Lubbock, Texas.

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