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Temporal range: Upper Triassic
Mystriosuchus planirostris skull.JPG
Skull of M. planirostris
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Phytosauria
Family: Phytosauridae
Subfamily: Pseudopalatinae
Genus: Mystriosuchus
Fraas, 1896
  • M. planirostris (von Meyer, 1863 [originally Belodon planirostris]) (type)
  • M. westphali Hungerbuhler, 2000

Mystriosuchus (meaning "spoon-crocodile")[1] 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.[2]


Modern restoration.

Mystriosuchus planirostris measured about four metres long (13 ft), according to a complete skeleton which was found in 1995.[3] 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;[3][4] similarities in the pelvis could imply viviparity.[5] Cranial morphology is suggestive of a primarily fish eating diet, having long jaws like those of the modern gharials.[2]

1914 restoration, outdated due to the less metriorhynchid-like morphology depicted.[3][4]

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,[6] it is possible that M. planirostris had soft tissue ornamentation.


M. westphali skull

Mystriosuchus used to be placed in its own subfamily, Mystriosuchidae,[7][8] but subsequent cladistic analysis grouped it with other members of Pseudopalatinae, despite having several physical differences from most of the genera in this group.[2] Originally considered to be a freshwater genus, a recent specimen from Northern Italy has shown that some Mystriosuchus specimens lived a completely marine life.[3] In their paper on Parasuchus, Christian Kammerer and colleagues noted that Mystriosuchini has priority over Pseudopalatinae, so synonymized Pseudopalatinae with Mystriosuchini.[9]

Below is a cladogram from Stocker (2012):[10]


Wannia scurriensis

Paleorhinus bransoni

"Paleorhinus" sawini


Brachysuchus megalodon


Rutiodon carolinensis

"Machaeroprosopus" zunii

Protome batalaria


"Phytosaurus" doughtyi

TMM 31173-120

Leptosuchus crosbiensis

Leptosuchus studeri

Smilosuchus lithodendrorum

Smilosuchus adamanensis

Smilosuchus gregorii

Pravusuchus hortus


Machaeroprosopus mccauleyi

Mystriosuchus westphali

Machaeroprosopus pristinus


  1. ^ Mystriosuchus planirostris description Retrieved on May 25th, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Hungerbühler, A. 2002. The Late Triassic phylosaur Mystriosuchus westphali, with a revision of the genus. Palaeontology 45(2): 377-418.
  3. ^ a b c d Gozzi, E. & Renesto, S.A. 2003. Complete specimen of Mystriosuchus (Reptilia, Phytosauria) from the Norian (Late Triassic) of Lombardy (Northern Italy). Rivista Italiana Di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 109(3): 475-498.
  4. ^ a b In The Sea, Diagram Group Infobase Publishing, 01/01/2004 - 113 páginas
  5. ^ Yanina Herrera; Marta S. Fernández; Susana G. Lamas; Lisandro Campos; Marianella Talevi; Zulma Gasparini (2017). "Morphology of the sacral region and reproductive strategies of Metriorhynchidae: a counter-inductive approach". Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of The Royal Society of Edinburgh. in press. doi:10.1017/S1755691016000165.
  6. ^ Stocker, M. R. & Butler, R. J. 2013. Phytosauria. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 379, 91-117.
  7. ^ von Huene, F. 1915. On reptiles of the New Mexican Trias in the Cope Collection. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 34: 485-507.
  8. ^ Long, R.A. & Murry, P.A. 1995. Late Triassic (Carnian and Norian) tetrapods from the southwestern United States. Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science 4 ‡254 pp.
  9. ^ Kammerer, C. F., Butler, R. J., Bandyopadhyay, S., Stocker, M. R. (2016), Relationships of the Indian phytosaur Parasuchus hislopi Lydekker, 1885. Papers in Palaeontology, 2: 1–23. doi: 10.1002/spp2.1022
  10. ^ Stocker, M. R. (2012). "A new phytosaur (Archosauriformes, Phytosauria) from the Lot's Wife beds (Sonsela Member) within the Chinle Formation (Upper Triassic) of Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 32 (3): 573–586. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.649815. 

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