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Temporal range: Early Triassic, Olenekian
Specimen WGSC 26004
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Hupehsuchia
Family: Hupehsuchidae
Genus: Hupehsuchus
Young, 1972
Type species
Hupehsuchus nanchangensis
Young, 1972

Hupehsuchus is an extinct genus of small marine reptile, about 1 meter (3 ft) long. It was found in the area of Hubei in China. This marine reptile lived in the Olenekian stage of the Early Triassic period.


Specimen on display at the Paleozoological Museum of China
Life restoration of Hupehsuchus nanchangensis

Hupehsuchus was similar to its close cousin, Nanchangosaurus, but differed from it in a number of ways. For example, Hupehsuchus had heavier armor on its back than Nanchangosaurus, and its back spines were more finely divided, giving it a more crocodile-like appearance than Nanchangosaurus. It had a thin, long snout like a gharial, river dolphin, or ichthyosaur, which it probably used to snag fish or probe for aquatic invertebrates.


It is unknown exactly what Hupehsuchus is related to. It is fairly clear that it shares a close relationship with Nanchangosaurus, but other relations are unknown. Many features, including the discovery of polydactyly, suggest that Hupehsuchus is related to the ichthyosaurs, but the fact that Hupehsuchus' extra digits include more bones in the hand, rather than just the fingers as in the ichthyosaurs, may discredit that theory. It along with Nanchangosaurus seem to be so different from any other reptile that a new order has been constructed for the two genera called Hupehsuchia.


  • Chinese Fossil Vertebrates by Spencer G. Lucas
  • The World Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures by Dougal Dixon