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Temporal range: Triassic
Trilophosaurus BW.jpg
restoration of Trilophosaurus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Subclass: Diapsida
Infraclass: Archosauromorpha
Order: Trilophosauria
Romer, 1956
Family: Trilophosauridae
Gregory, 1945


Trilophosaurs were lizard-like Triassic diapsid reptiles related to the archosaurs. The best known genus is Trilophosaurus, a herbivore up to 2.5 meters long. It had a short, unusually heavily built skull, equipped with massive, broad flattened cheek teeth with sharp shearing surfaces for cutting up tough plant material. Teeth are absent from the premaxilla and front of the lower jaw, which in life were probably equipped with a horny beak.

Trilophosaurus buettneri

The skull is also unusual in that the lower temporal opening is missing, giving the appearance of a euryapsid skull, and originally the Trilophosaurs were classified with placodonts and sauropterygia. Carroll 1988 suggests that the lower opening may have been lost to strengthen the skull.

Trilophosaurs are so far known only from the Late Triassic of North America and Europe.


  • Benton, M. J. (2000), Vertebrate Paleontology, 2nd ed. Blackwell Science Ltd, p. 144
  • Carroll, R. L. (1988), Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, W.H. Freeman & Co. p. 266

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