Temporal range: Upper Triassic
|Skull of M. planirostris|
Mystriosuchus (meaning "spoon-crocodile") is an extinct genus of phytosaur that lived in the Late Triassic (middle Norian) in Europe. It was first named by Eberhard Fraas in 1896, and includes two species: M. westphali and the type species, M. planirostris.
Mystriosuchus planirostris measured about four metres long (13 ft), according to a complete skeleton which was found in 1995. The postcranial anatomy of the skeleton suggests that Mystriosuchus was more adapted to aquatic life than other known phytosaurs, possessing shorter and more paddle-like limbs as well as a fin as in metriorhynchids and ichthyosaurs; similarities in the pelvis could imply viviparity. Cranial morphology is suggestive of a primarily fish eating diet, having long jaws like those of the modern gharials.
M. planirostris, as the name implies, has a rather "plain" snout, without osseous ornamentation or crests. M. westphali, on the other hand, has multiple bony crests along the upper jaw, most prominently at the base and tip of the snout. As keratinous crests are known in phytosaurs, it is possible that M. planirostris had soft tissue ornamentation.
Mystriosuchus used to be placed in its own subfamily, Mystriosuchidae, but subsequent cladistic analysis grouped it with other members of Pseudopalatinae, despite having several physical differences from most of the genera in this group. Originally considered to be a freshwater genus, a recent specimen from Northern Italy has shown that some Mystriosuchus specimens lived a completely marine life. In their paper on Parasuchus, Christian Kammerer and colleagues noted that Mystriosuchini has priority over Pseudopalatinae, so synonymized Pseudopalatinae with Mystriosuchini.
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