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Temporal range: Triassic
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Subclass: Diapsida
Infraclass: Archosauromorpha
Order: Trilophosauria
Family: Trilophosauridae
Genus: Trilophosaurus
Case, 1928
  • T. buettneri Case, 1928 (type)
  • T. jacobsi Murry, 1987
  • T. dornorum Mueller and Parker, 2006

Trilophosaurus (Greek for "Lizard with three ridges") was a lizard-like Triassic archosauromorph reptile. It was a herbivore up to 2.5 m 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.

T. buettneri.
T. buettneri compared to a human.

The skull is also unusual in that the lower temporal opening is missing, giving the appearance of a euryapsid skull.[citation needed] Because of this, the trilophosaurs were once classified with placodonts within Sauropterygia. Carroll (1988) suggested that the lower opening may have been lost to strengthen the skull.

Trilophosaurus is 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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