Named By: Barnum Brown - 1934.
Synonyms: Baroqueosuchus, Lesothosuchus.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Crocodylomorpha, Protosuchidae.
Species: P. richardsoni (type), P. haughtoni, P. micmac.
Size: 1 meter long.
Known locations: Canada - Nova Scotia. USA - Arizona. South Africa.
Time period: Late Triassic to Early Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Numerous specimens, some of almost complete individuals.
is a member of a group of reptiles whose descendants would eventually
go on to become the modern crocodiles that we know today. Teeth of
one jaw can be clearly seen to fit into special notches of the opposite
jaw, and the posterior portion of the mouth was wider than the front
which allowed for a more versatile and powerful set of jaw closing
muscles. However, Protosuchus seems to have
been a terrestrial
animal suited for hunting on land rather than in the water. The eyes
were placed on the sides of the skull rather than the top (modern
crocodiles peer at their prey while only exposing the eyes and nostrils
above the water) and the legs were longer than later more modern
forms to allow for more efficient locomotion on land. As a predator,
Protosuchus probably competed with early dinosaurs
such as Coelophysis.
A bit of trivia about Protosuchus, when first described by the famous American palaeontologist Barnum Brown the holotype specimen had been named Archaeosuchus. However it was soon learned that this name had already been given to a genus of synapsid by the South African palaeontologist Robert Broom, hence the reason for the name change.
- The Skull of Protosuchus haughtoni, an Early Jurassic Crocodyliform from Southern Africa - C. E. Gow. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology Vol. 20, No. 1 2000.