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Temporal range: Late Triassic
Terrestrisuchus BW.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Crocodylomorpha
Genus: Terrestrisuchus
Crush, 1984
Species: T. gracilis
Binomial name
Terrestrisuchus gracilis

Terrestrisuchus ('land crocodile') is an extinct genus of early crocodylomorph that was about 50 cm (1 ft 8 in) long. Fossils have been found in the British Isles and date from the Late Triassic.


Skeletal restoration by Jaime Headden

Terrestrisuchus was a small, thin, lizard-like creature with long legs, bearing little to no resemblance to modern crocodiles, which are its distant relatives. It had a length of 0.75 to 1 metre (2.5 to 3.3 ft) and a weight of 15 kilograms (33 lb).[1] The shape of the legs suggests that it was able to run fast. Its tail was particularly long, about twice the length of the head and body combined, and may have been used as a balance allowing the animal to rear up and run on its hind legs alone for brief periods.[2]


The legs were positioned directly beneath the body, meaning ancestral crocodiles such as Terrestrisuchus were cursorial and thus, their legs worked as pairs for galloping. Pseudo-galloping can be seen in modern crocodiles as they are known to use paired walking in rare but speed-dependent situations. Fossil evidence also shows that they were digitigrade, supporting their weight on only digits, or fingers.


Some paleontologists suggest that Terrestrisuchus may be juvenile Saltoposuchus.[3]


  1. ^ Benson, R.B.J. & Brussatte, S. (2012). Prehistoric Life. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-7566-9910-9. 
  2. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 98. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  3. ^ Allen, D. (2003). "When Terrestrisuchus gracilis reaches puberty it becomes Saltoposuchus connectens!". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 23 (3): 29A. doi:10.1080/02724634.2003.10010538.