Ornithosuchus

Name: Ornithosuchus ‭(‬Bird crocodile‭)‬.
Phonetic: Or-nif-oh-soo-kus.
Named By: Thomas Henry Huxley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1877.
Synonyms: Dasygnathus longidens,‭ ‬Ornithosuchus taylori,‭ ‬Ornithosuchus woodwardi.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Archosauria,‭ ‬Crurotarsi,‭ ‬Pseudosuchia,‭ ‬Ornithosuchidae.
Species: O.‭ ‬longidens‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: 4‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Scotland.
Time period: Carnian of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: At least three specimens.

       Although the last part of the name,‭ ‬suchus,‭ ‬translates to English as crocodile,‭ ‬Ornithosuchus was actually an archosaur.‭ ‬These were the dominant reptiles of the Triassic some of which would diverge into true crocodiles,‭ ‬while others would take different paths to evolve into the dinosaurs.‭ ‬In fact the long hind legs that would have allowed for a bipedal stance were once taken as a sign that Ornithosuchus was a very primitive dinosaur,‭ ‬although modern analysis places it more firmly within the Archosauria.‭ ‬This identification is based upon the five towed feet,‭ ‬the number of skull fenestra‭ (‬holes‭) ‬as well as the joints of the ankles and spine to the hips.
       Because the long hind legs were directly underneath the hips Ornithosuchus was easily able to attain a bipedal stance.‭ ‬However it’s more likely that the typical resting posture of Ornithosuchus was quadrupedal,‭ ‬with bipedal posture only taking over when Ornithosuchus was chasing after and attacking prey.‭ ‬This would have allowed for greater speed as well as reach for Ornithosuchus to find a weaker spot on the prey.‭ ‬This high bite angle could explain why the archosaurs developed bony armour along their backs,‭ ‬particularly in herbivorous members such as as Desmatosuchus.
       Ornithosuchus was roughly mid-range in size for the archosaurs and since it was larger than many of the other known archosaurs.‭ ‬However Ornithosuchus probably had to mind its step when dealing with‭ ‬other larger members of the group which could grow up to five to six meters long as seen with the Polish archosaur Smok.

Further reading
- Triassic reptiles from the Elgin area: Ornithosuchus and the origin of carnosaurs - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 248(744): 53-134. - A. D. Walker - 1964.



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