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Drawing life reconstruction of Ornithosuchus with his prey Hyperodapedon

Drawing life reconstruction of Ornithosuchus with his prey Hyperodapedon

Temporal occurrence
Upper Triassic ( Carnian )
235 to 228 million years
Scientific name
Huxley , 1877
  • Ornithosuchus longidens

Ornithosuchus is an extinct genus of archosaurs . It is the eponymous for the Ornithosuchidae , a group of predatory crurotarsi that were distantly related to the crocodiles. Fossils were found in the Lossiemouth Sandstone Formation in Scotland and werefirst described as Dasygnathus by Thomas Huxley in 1877. The type species and only currently recognized species is Ornithosuchus longidens . Two other species were previously recognized - Ornithosuchus taylori and Ornithosuchus woodwardi . Walker (1964) proved, however, that these species are identical to the type species Ornithosuchus longidens . The specimens found are poorly preserved.


Ornithosuchus probably reached a length of 0.5 to 3 meters. The body was slim. The long hind limbs of Ornithosuchus suggest that the animal could possibly move both biped (two-legged) and quadruped .


Ornithosuchus is the eponymous representative of the Ornithosuchidae . Besides Ornithosuchus , Riojasuchus and Venaticosuchus are the only recognized genera in this family. The external systematics of the Ornithosuchidae is very controversial. According to Brusatte et al. (2010) is the closest relative of Revueltosaurus ; these form the sister taxon of the Rauisuchia .

Nesbitt (2011) considers the Ornithosuchidae to be a basal (primordial) family of the Pseudosuchia , a group within the Crurotarsi , which includes a large number of extinct groups such as the Rauisuchier and today's crocodiles. According to Nesbitt, the sister taxons of the Ornithosuchidae are the Suchia .

Nesbitt (2011) cladogram:

















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Ornithosuchus fossils are known from the Lossiemouth Sandstone Formation in Scotland . The fine-grained, light-colored sandstone is around 230 million years old. These sediments are fossil sand dunes; they were not deposited by water transport (fluviatil) but by wind transport (aeolian). The dominant herbivores (herbivores) of the formation were the rhynchosaur Hyperodapedon and the aetosaur Stagonolepis . Ornithosuchus was probably the top predator and at the same time the largest predator of this ecosystem, with Hyperodapedon and Stagonolepis probably fitting into the prey scheme. Smaller reptiles were the procolophonide leptopleuron , the sphenodont brachyrhinodon and the small archosaur Scleromochlus , which were probably hunted by young Ornithosuchus and the archosaurs Saltopus and Erpetosuchus .

Individual evidence

  1. Alick D. Walker : Triassic reptiles from the Elgin area: Ornithosuchus and the origin of carnosaurs. In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences. Vol. 248, No. 744, 1964, pp. 53-134, doi : 10.1098 / rstb.1964.0009 .
  2. a b c Sterling J. Nesbitt: The Early Evolution of Archosaurs: Relationships and the Origin of Major Clades (= Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. No. 352). American Museum of Natural History, New York NY 2011, doi : 10.1206 / 352.1 , digital version (PDF; 32.69 MB) .
  3. a b Michael J. Benton : Paleontology of the vertebrates. Translation of the 3rd English edition by Hans-Ulrich Pfretzschner. Pfeil, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-89937-072-0 .
  4. Stephen L. Brusatte, Michael J. Benton, Julia B. Desojo, Max C. Langer: The higher-level phylogeny of Archosauria (Tetrapoda: Diapsida). In: Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. Vol. 8, No. 1, 2010, pp. 3-7, doi : 10.1080 / 14772010903537732 .