The phytosaurs were aquatic carnivores that are known only from the Late Triassic. With heavily armored, crocodilelike bodies, up to 16 ft/5 m long, they were the dominant predators in rivers of the northern hemisphere.
Phytosaurs represent a classic case of parallel evolution with the true crocodiles; both types of reptile are descended from the same ancestral thecodontian stock, and each assumed independently the same general structure in response to the same way of life.
name: Rutiodon time: Late Triassic locality: Europe (Germany and Switzerland) and North America (Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas) size: 10 ft/3 m long
Rutiodon was a typical phytosaur, its back, flanks and tail armored with bony plates. It had a long snout like a modern gavial (a crocodile found only in Indian rivers), and jaws filled with sharp teeth,
This large North American aetosaur had particularly heavy armor encasing its body. Great quadrangular plates covered its back and tail and part of its belly, while long spines, up to 18 in/45 cm long, projected sideways from its shoulders. It had the small head, piglike snout and weak, peglike teeth characteristic of the plant-eating aetosaurs.
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