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Temporal range: Late Triassic
Rutiodon carolinensis.JPG
Skeleton of Rutiodon carolinensis (AMNH 1) in the American Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Phytosauria
Family: Phytosauridae
Genus: Rutiodon
Emmons, 1856
  • R. carolinensis (Emmons, 1856) (type)
  • R. manhattanensis (Huene, 1913)
  • Palaeonornis
    Emmons, 1857

Rutiodon ("Wrinkle tooth") is an extinct genus of archosaur belonging to the family Phytosauridae. It lived during the Late Triassic period, and was about 3 to 8 meters in length.[1] Rutiodon is known from the eastern United States (North Carolina, New York, New Jersey).[2]


Fossil of R. carolinensis
Restoration of R. carolinensis

Like other phytosaurs, Rutiodon strongly resembled a crocodile, but its nostrils were positioned far back on the head, close to the eyes, instead of at the tip of the snout. It had enlarged front teeth, and a relatively narrow jaw, somewhat resembling that of a modern gharial. This suggests that this carnivore probably caught fish and it may also have snatched land animals from the waterside.[1] Also, like modern crocodiles, its back, flanks, and tail were covered with bony armored plates.[3]


The holotype of R. manhattanensis on display in the American Museum of Natural History
Skeleton of R. carolinensis viewed from the front

The type species of Rutiodon is R. carolinensis. A second species, R. manhattanensis, was discovered in 1910 near Fort Lee, New Jersey, and named in reference to its close proximity to Manhattan.


Below is a cladogram from Stocker (2012):[4]


"Paleorhinus" 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


Pseudopalatus mccauleyi

Mystriosuchus westphali

Pseudopalatus pristinus

In popular culture[edit]

Rutiodon appeared in the 2001 Discovery Channel documentary When Dinosaurs Roamed America, shown trying to attack a Coelophysis near the water's edge and missing. Rutiodon was also featured in episode 6 of Animal Armageddon. In the episode The Amazing Three Horn Girl from The Land Before Time (TV Series) Rutiodons were the only belly Draggers from the TV Series.


  1. ^ a b Gaines, Richard M. (2001). Coelophysis. ABDO Publishing Company. p. 21. ISBN 1-57765-488-9. 
  2. ^ Michelle R. Stocker (2010). "A new taxon of phytosaur (Archosauria: Pseudosuchia) from the Late Triassic (Norian) Sonsela Member (Chinle Formation) in Arizona, and a critical reevaluation of Leptosuchus Case, 1922". Palaeontology 53 (5): 997–1022. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2010.00983.x. 
  3. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 95. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  4. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]