1.4" Fossil Phytosaur Tooth in Sandstone - Arizona

This is a nicely preserved 1.4" long Phytosaur tooth still partially embedded in the sandstone in which it was found. It comes out of the Upper Triassic age Chinle Formation in Northeast Arizona. Much of the enamel has weathered away from this tooth, along with any visible serrations. The tooth is naturally associated with a small vertebra. Comes with the pictured metal display stand.

There are a variety of phytosaurids that come from this location, making it difficult to conclusively identify a tooth like this 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.


DETAILS
SPECIES
Unidentified Phytosaur
LOCATION
Private Ranch, Northeast Arizona
FORMATION
Chinle Formation
SIZE
1.4" Tooth, 5.5 x 3.7" Rock
ITEM
#173487
GUARANTEE
We guarantee the authenticity of all of our
specimens. Read more about our
Authenticity Guarantee.