Three Fossil Phytosaur Teeth in Sandstone - Arizona

These are beautifully preserved Phytosaur teeth still partially embedded in the sandstone they were found in. There are three teeth present, the smallest of which is missing its tip. The largest tooth measures 2.3" long and has two repaired cracks through it. The second largest tooth is 1.15" long and has serrations along both edges. This incredible specimen comes with the pictured custom metal display stand.

There are a variety of phytosaurids that come from this location, making it difficult to conclusively identify these teeth to a specific genus.

Phytosaurs are members of the order Phytosauria. These were semiaquatic, crocodile-like reptiles characterized by long snouts, conical teeth, short legs and long, low slung bodies. They had skin armored with scale like scutes. It is not clearly understood when Phytosaurus evolved. A number of apparently antecedent species have been found in the fossil record but their relationship to Phytosaurs is still being debated. Phytosaurus disappears from the fossil record during the Triassic- Jurassic Extinction, about 200 million years ago.

An artists reconstruction of a Phytosaur.  By Nobu Tamura

Generally, Phytosaurs looks like modern crocodilian.  It had a long snout, a mouth with conical teeth, short legs, long body with a long, heavy tail and thick armored skin.   Some species had longer, thinner snouts with thin conical teeth for catching fish, while others had comparatively shorter, wider snouts with conical teeth in the front and ripping teeth in the back of the mouth.  These were likely ambush hunters that snatched prey at the water’s edge, much like modern crocodiles.  The longest known Phytosaur was 39 feet long and would have been about as tall as a human at the top of its back.  Unlike modern Crocodilians, whose nostrils are at the end of their snouts, Phytosauria had their nostrils at the base of their snouts just above, or at the same level as their eyes.  Phytosaurs are not related to modern Crocodilians.  The similarities are an example of parallel evolution.  This is when two different animals develop similar characteristics and attributes without a common ancestor.

Phytosaurs were nearly globally distributed. The result is phytosaur fossils have been found in Europe, North America, India, Thailand, Brazil, Greenland and even Antarctica.
An artists reconstruction of a Phytosaur. By Nobu Tamura

Generally, Phytosaurs looks like modern crocodilian. It had a long snout, a mouth with conical teeth, short legs, long body with a long, heavy tail and thick armored skin. Some species had longer, thinner snouts with thin conical teeth for catching fish, while others had comparatively shorter, wider snouts with conical teeth in the front and ripping teeth in the back of the mouth. These were likely ambush hunters that snatched prey at the water’s edge, much like modern crocodiles. The longest known Phytosaur was 39 feet long and would have been about as tall as a human at the top of its back. Unlike modern Crocodilians, whose nostrils are at the end of their snouts, Phytosauria had their nostrils at the base of their snouts just above, or at the same level as their eyes. Phytosaurs are not related to modern Crocodilians. The similarities are an example of parallel evolution. This is when two different animals develop similar characteristics and attributes without a common ancestor.

Phytosaurs were nearly globally distributed. The result is phytosaur fossils have been found in Europe, North America, India, Thailand, Brazil, Greenland and even Antarctica.


FOR SALE
$1,295
DETAILS
SPECIES
Unidentified Phytosaurs
LOCATION
Private Ranch, Northeast Arizona
FORMATION
Chinle Formation
SIZE
7.2 x 4.8" Rock
ITEM
#173488
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