Temporal range: Upper Triassic
228 to 199.6 mya
|Skull of Pseudopalatus mccauleyi|
Parasuchia Huxley, 1875
Phytosaurs were long-snouted and heavily armoured, bearing a remarkable resemblance to modern crocodiles in size, appearance, and lifestyle. This is an example of convergence or parallel evolution. The name 'phytosaur' means 'plant reptile': the first fossils of phytosaurs were mistakenly thought to belong to plant eaters. The sharp teeth in phytosaur jaws clearly show they were predators.
Although phytosaurs were not true crocodilians themselves, they were more closely related to the crocodilians than to other modern reptiles. Crocodiles did not become phytosaur-like until the Lower Jurassic.
- Benton M.J. 1990. The reign of the reptiles. Crescent, New York. p75