Named By: Ebenezer Emmons - 1856.
Synonyms: Palaeonornis, Machaeroprosopus.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Archosauria, Phytosauria, Phytosauridae.
Species: R. manhattanensis (type). R. carolinensis. Other species are often mentioned but the full list often changes depending upon source.
Size: Between 3 and 8 meters long depending upon species and attributed fossil material.
Known locations: Germany, Mexico, Switzerland, USA - Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Time period: Late Triassic.
Fossil representation: Multiple specimens.
one of the earliest known phytosaurs, and to this day is one that is
usually illustrated as an example of the group. Like with the other
phytosaurs, Rutiodon had an incredible similarity
crocodiles, something that still to this day causes some to
incorrectly call phytosaurs ancient crocodiles. In actuality the
phytosaurs represent their own group and have a number of features that
separate them from crocodiles which include lack of a bony palate,
more primitive ankle structure as well as the most obvious being the
placement of the nostrils, which are high up the snout in front of
the eyes rather than on the very tip of the snout as seen in crocodiles.
Similarities with crocodiles however involve an overall identical body form, armour plates (referred to as osteoderms or scutes) across the back and upper flanks, and long snouts and jaws that had rows of sharp teeth. This infers that phytosaurs (and Rutiodon) lived and hunted like crocodiles do today, either taking prey like fish in water or dragging drinking creatures in from the edge so that they could be drowned and eaten.
Rutiodon has had a large number of species attributed to the genus, but not all of these may be valid, and is part of the reason for the great variance in the number of valid species depending upon source. Additionally the transference of fossil material in and out of the Rutiodon genus will likely have implications for valid size estimates.