Jurassic crocodilian discovered in Oregon, USA

This video says about itself:

11 September 2015

Pelagosaurus” is an extinct genus of thalattosuchian crocodyliform that lived during the Toarcian stage of the Lower Jurassic, around 183 Ma to 175 Ma, in shallow epicontinental seas that covered much of what is now Western Europe. The systematic taxonomy of “Pelagosaurus” has been fiercely disputed over the years, and was assigned to Thalattosuchia after its systematics within Teleosauridae were disputed. “Pelagosaurus” measured 3 m in length with a weight of 450 kg, and was markedly similar to the modern-day gharial, which has similar adaptions and carnivorous feeding habits.

“Pelagosaurus” was originally described from a specimen from Normandy, but the holotype for “P. typus” was discovered north of the town of Ilminster in Somerset, England. Most “Pelagosaurus” remains have been found in the Ilminster area, but numerous other remains, predominantly skulls and articulated skeletons, have been found around Western Europe in locations such as France and Germany. Specimens from the Somerset region come primarily from the Strawberry Bank quarry north of Ilminster; although the site had yielded other fossil remains before, the site has since been built over. One of the specimens was that of a small juvenile, providing some insight into “Pelagosaurus'” growth pattern.

The evolutionary relationships of “Pelagosaurus” has been confusing as there have been three different interpretations of its placement in Thalattosuchia.

“Pelagosaurus” was initially classified as a teleosaurid, based upon anatomical similarity, by Eudes-Deslongchamps, Westphal and Duffin.

From The Oregonian:

Oregon‘s Jurassic croc

The rare reptile fossil found by an amateur paleontologist crossed an ocean of time and the Earth’s crust to get here

Saturday, March 17, 2007


The ferocious predator plied Asian coastal waters before dying and, stuck in the ocean floor, took a slow, 100 million-year ride east to the sandstone hills of Central Oregon southeast of Prineville.

In its day, the creature lunged from the water to snare low-flying reptiles called pterosaurs. But less than two years ago, Andrew Bland, an amateur fossil-hunter from Vancouver, scanned a hillside near the tiny town of Suplee and spied a curious brownish-black rock, which turned out to be a strange and very, very old skull.

Bland, a software engineer by profession, had stumbled upon the oldest, most complete crocodile ever found in Oregon — a potentially historic find pegged at about 150 million to 200 million years of age.

The deadly creature, called a thalattosuchian from the Jurassic Period, was about 6 to 8 feet long and would have weighed a few hundred pounds, says William Orr, director of the Thomas Condon State Museum of Fossils at the University of Oregon, which houses the extinct animal’s fossilized bones.

“We were all surprised and delighted,” said Bland, who, with eight other amateur paleontologists on a private ranch, was searching for fossilized shellfish called ammonites.

“This darker rock had eroded out of the hillside. We just started digging.”

The streamlined, long-snouted reptile was lethal. Its powerful, sharklike tail — along with a lack of the bony armor that characterizes modern crocodiles — enabled it to speed after prey.

The short-legged, web-footed crocodile is believed to have come on land only to lay its eggs.

Orr, a UO professor emeritus of geology, estimates that about 60 percent of the skeletal bones were uncovered, which he said makes it significantly more complete than two crocodile fossils found in the area in 1941 and 1985.

Orr says the Crook County croc likely became deposited “somewhere in China or Australia or Japan” then took a 100 million-year “conveyor belt” journey across the Pacific.

A package of the rocks the crocodile was in became annexed to present-day Central Oregon in what geologists call the Snowshoe Formation of the Izee Terrane.

Geologists refer to the Izee as an “exotic terrane,” which means a group of rocks that migrated via plate tectonics from its place of origin.

See also here.

A massive volcanic eruption 200 million years ago tipped the scales in the battle between dinosaurs and crocodiles for global dominance: here.

For this study, an international team of scientists set out to better understand today’s oxygen-deprived oceans by investigating the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (T-OAE), an interval of global oceanic deoxygenation characterized by a mass extinction of marine organisms that occurred in the Early Jurassic Period. “We wanted to reconstruct Early Jurassic ocean oxygen levels to better understand the mass extinction and the T-OAE,” said Theodore Them, a postdoctoral researcher at FSU who led the study. “We used to think of ocean temperature and acidification as a one-two punch, but more recently we’ve learned this third variable, oxygen change, is equally important”: here.

Extinct crocodile of Madagascar: here.

Triassic phytosaurs: here.

Desmatosuchus: here.

Did ammonites survive KT extinction? Here.

7 thoughts on “Jurassic crocodilian discovered in Oregon, USA

  1. Crocodile fossil hunt is big fish story

    A sketch by the famous Kiowa artist Silverhorn, from about 1891-1894, of the Kiowa water monster.

    From the dig: A crocodile tooth that measures 3 inches in length.

    A walk into the high desert of Oregon has netted an amateur paleontologist a heck of a fish story, and perhaps some unexpected insight into a Native American totem animal.

    “That morning, what I saw was a skull weathered out of a hillside,” says Andrew Bland of the North American Research Group (NARG), a hobbyists’ group looking for fossils last year on a rancher’s land in eastern Oregon’s Crook County. “I followed it up the hillside and saw there was a lot of it. Then I got excited.”

    Digging into the hillside over a day and a half, the team uncovered almost half of a six to eight-foot long crocodile, Thalattosuchia, which lived more than 160 million years ago during the Jurassic era. Remarkably, the croc had a fish tail (although its exact shape remains in contention), which along with the needle teeth found in the skull must have made it swift predator at sea. The creature most likely made its living in what is today the South China Sea, and continental drift carried the rock encasing the fossil to Oregon tens of millions of years ago, according to University of Oregon geologist, William Orr.

    Anyone who thinks fossil collecting is easy should bear in mind that Bland spent the next six months air-blasting rock away from the fossil to reveal all its jumbled pieces. The team hopes to show the “Crook County croc” at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro, Ore., where NARG regularly meets, after a two-year study of the fossil remains at the University of Iowa. “Interesting that in a desert environment you can find marine fossils, but there it was,” Bland says.

    Most intriguing, the initial restoration of the fossil croc bears a striking resemblance to a mythic animal of some Native American tribes, the Kiowa, Sioux, Pomo of northern California and others, says Adrienne Mayor, a visiting scholar at Stanford University, author of Fossil Legends of the First Americans. A University of Oregon artist’s depiction of the crocodile greatly resembles the Kiowa artist Silverhorn’s 1891-94 sketch of a water monster with scales, a long narrow head with needle teeth and a forked fish-tail drawn to illustrate water serpent legends, Mayor says. The Pomo Indians described a fish-tailed, needle-toothed water monster called Bagil, as well.
    FIND MORE STORIES IN: Mayor | Oregon | Native American | Dan Vergano | Jurassic

    “Obviously, Native Americans who found remarkable fossils didn’t just ignore them,” Mayor says. “Naturally they speculated about (fossils.) They organized special trips to fossil sites and tried to imagine how the creatures lived and died. Their fossil stories were not formal science, but they contained insights based on keen observation of evidence. Some of their ideas, even though they were expressed in myths, anticipated modern scientific theories about extinction.”

    Mayor occupies a fascinating niche in paleontology, examining links between fossils and ancient myths. In previous work she examined how fossil finds in ancient Greece may have contributed to the notion of Zeus slaying ancient Titans with lightning bolts.

    “I do believe that Adrienne Mayor is on to something here,” says of California State Parks archaeologist E. Breck Parkman, by e-mail. “As she has noted in her earlier work, there is a good possibility that earlier people observed the fossils of odd and extinct creatures and then went on to interpret those creatures in their mythologies. An example is found in North Asia, where Native peoples of Siberia apparently observed the remains of mammoths eroding from the ground and then created stories of great underground creatures that lived during mythological times.”

    A very similar dragon-creature is described from northeastern California, Parkman adds. The Ajumawi people have a legend of a big serpent-like creature with fish tail and elk antlers, similar to Bagil.

    “Antlers or horns are common in Native American depictions of sacred or mysterious creatures,” Mayor notes.

    Parkman also notes at Serpent Cave, in Baja California, “there are beautiful cave paintings of big serpent-like figures sporting deer antlers and fish tails. In British Columbia, in the Stein River Valley, there are rock paintings of alligator-like creatures sporting fish tails. Rock art depictions of alligator-like creatures also occur elsewhere in the U.S., including Utah, Arizona, and Ohio.”

    One skeptic about a mythology connection, however, is Bland, who well remembers how much work it took to unearth his find. “It’s always possible, but it’s hard to imagine someone finding something complete enough to get a good idea of appearance just walking by.” Marine fossils that travel by plate tectonic thousands of miles in particular often arrive jumbled, he says, and typically take a lot of work to expose. “Just looking for fossils is a voyage of discovery every time we go out there. You have to be aware something like this may be out there. And you have to get lucky.”

    Each week, USA TODAY’s Dan Vergano combs scholarly journals to present the Science Snapshot, a brief summary of some of the latest findings in scientific research.



  2. Aug 4, 2007 3:50 pm US/Mountain
    Skeleton Found In Utah Belonged To Super Crocodile

    KANAB – A 75-million-year-old fossil, found in southern Utah, was once a supercrocodile that snacked on 10-foot sturgeons and devoured land-dwelling dinosaurs, a paleontologist said.

    “The fish were like a sushi appetizer to tide it over before the steak,” said Alan Titus, paleontologist for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. “It was just as big as Tyrannosaurus but lived in water.”

    Titus uncovered about a quarter of the 30-foot creature’s upper snout in June on the fossil-rich Kaiparowits Plateau in Kane County.

    The crocodile’s size can be determined from fossilized sockets that are 1.75 inches in diameter and once held a mouthful of jagged 5-inch teeth, Titus said. The animal’s skull is believed to have been about 4 feet in length.

    The creature’s jaw shape and the position of its teeth suggest the dinosaur is from a previously unidentified species and could represent a new genus category, he said.

    “It is the biggest crocodile fossil ever found in Utah,” Titus said. “People have found teeth of crocodiles before, so we knew they were out there, but nothing this big. This is a super-duper fossil.”

    The fossil was found in an area of the Kaiparowits that had already yielded a new species of horned dinosaurs, a plant-eating hadrosaurs and a birdlike species known as a hagryphus.

    At a paleontology lab in Kanab a pair of graduate students who helped Titus remove the fossil have been carefully cleaning it. The fossil is also being stabilized with injections of glue.

    Eventually the fossil will be housed at the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City.

    (© 2007 The Associated Press.


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