Named By: Louis Dollo - 1883.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Crocodylomorpha, Bernissartiidae.
Species: B. fagesii (type).
Size: 60 centimetres long.
Known locations: Belgium, England, Spain, North America.
Time period: Hauterivian/Barremian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Many specimens, particularly skulls and post cranial remains from Belgium and Spain.
giant crocodiles like Sarcosuchus
usually steal the limelight, the
little ones such as Bernissartia can prove just as
from being one of the smallest crocodiles in the fossil record,
Bernissartia had two distinct types of teeth. The
front teeth are
sharp and pointed, and are thought to have been for biting into small
slippery prey like fish. The rear teeth however are more rounded and
blunt, more suitable for crushing prey like shellfish and
crustaceans. Some Bernissartia remains have been
found in association
with the remains of the ornithopod dinosaur Iguanodon,
possibility that they may have scavenged the carcass of a dinosaur that
had drowned (although this is but one explanation).
Bernissartia is usually thought of as inhabiting coastal environments, possibly on the coast itself or in lagoons not far from. As such it is possible that Bernissartia may have behaved like a beach comber, feeding upon available animals when found as well as scavenging the remains of creatures that had washed onto the beach. Higher sea levels during the cretaceous meant that Europe was more of chain of islands surrounded by shallow seas rather than the single landmass we know today, meaning that such coastal environments were amongst the most extensive of the Cretaceous.