Temporal range: Early Cretaceous
Salisbury & Naish, 2011
Salisbury & Naish, 2011
It is known from a single holotype specimen from the Wealden Group of the Isle of Wight that includes a well-preserved skull and partial skeleton. This specimen has been known since 1904 and was identified as the "Tie Pits specimen" or the "Hooley specimen" after Reginald Walter Hooley, an amateur paleontologist who had described it in 1905. Hooley had originally attributed the specimen to the previously named species Goniopholis crassidens.
In 2011, Hooley's specimen was redescribed as a distinct genus and species of goniopholidid called Anteophthalmosuchus hooleyi. The genus name means "forward-pointing eye crocodile" because the specimen's eye sockets are positioned high on the skull and angle forward rather than to the side as in most other flat-skulled crocodyliforms, and the species name honors Hooley. A second, smaller skull was identified as a possible juvenile specimen of Anteophthalmosuchus. Features that distinguish A. hooleyi from Goniopholis crassidens include the lack of a hole in the lower jaw called the mandibular fenestra, very wide supratemporal fenestrae (openings) on the skull table, and a bone above the eye socket called the palpebral that is small and does not extend over the socket as in some other goniopholidids.
At an estimated 3.5 metres (11 ft) in length, A. hooleyi would have been the largest crocodyliform in the Wealden faunal assemblage, larger than the contemporaneous species Hylaeochampsa vectiana, Leiokarinosuchus brookensis, and Vectisuchus leptognathus.
A second species, Anteophthalmosuchus escuchae, was first described and named by A.D. Buscalioni, L. Alcalá, E. Espílez and L. Mampel in 2013. It is known solely from the holotype AR-1-1097 which consists of a partial skull. It was collected from the early Albian-aged Escucha Formation, at Santa Maria Mine located in the municipality of Ariño, Teruel Province, of Aragon, along with the closely related Hulkepholis plotos.
Anteophthalmosuchus hooleyi was included in a phylogenetic analysis of goniopholidids that was published soon before the specimen was redescribed. It was found to be most closely related to a specimen called "Dollo's goniopholidid", and the two were found to be the closest relatives of a specimen called "Hulke's goniopholidid", now named Goniopholis willetti. Below is a cladogram from that analysis:
- Steven W. Salisbury and Darren Naish (2011). "Crocodilians". In Batten, D. J. (eds). English Wealden Fossils. The Palaeontological Association (London). pp. 305–369.
- Naish, Darren (2 December 2011). "The Wealden Bible: English Wealden Fossils, 2011". Tetrapod Zoology. Scientific American Blogs. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- Buscalioni, A.D.; Alcalá, L.; Espílez, E. & Mampel, L. (2013). "European Goniopholididae from the Early Albian Escucha Formation in Ariño (Teruel, Aragón, España)". Spanish Journal of Paleontology 28 (1): 103–122.
- Naish, Darren (24 September 2012). "In pursuit of Early Cretaceous crocodyliforms in southern England: ode to Goniopholididae". Tetrapod Zoology. Scientific American Blogs. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- De Andrade, M. B.; Edmonds, R.; Benton, M. J.; Schouten, R. (2011). "A new Berriasian species of Goniopholis (Mesoeucrocodylia, Neosuchia) from England, and a review of the genus". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 163: S66. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2011.00709.x.