Postosuchus – Fossils Lend Clues

Postosuchus FossilPostosuchus was a large reptile who lived approximately 230 million years ago. The first discovery of Postosuchus was in Texas in 1922 and was described and named shortly thereafter by Ermine Cowles Case. The name Postosuchus means “Post crocodile”, which reveals their size, about 15 feet in length, and Post refers to the city of Post in Texas near where the first fossils were found. Since this initial find, Postosuchus has been discovered in Arizona, New Mexico, and North Carolina. They were carnivorous and weighed close to 2,000 pounds. Their impressive size made them one of the largest, if not the largest, predator in their area.


There has been a great deal of confusion about the correct classification of Postosuchus. This is because they belong to a group of pre-dinosaurs called the archosaurs. Archosaurs were a sort of bridge between the first prehistoric reptiles and what would become dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and prehistoric crocodiles. Postosuchus lived right near the end of the time of the archosaurs and may have lived alongside or even hunted some of those descendants, such as early crocodiles. The diet of this dinosaur is better known than that of many others, since the bones of other reptiles have been found preserved with several Postosuchus remains. Further, one fossil depicts a Postosuchus in the middle of an attack on a smaller reptile, with the jaws of Postosuchus clamped down firmly of the prey’s neck. Few other species can boast such a detailed record of diet and hunting habits.


Postosuchus to Human SizeIt is possible that while hunting, Postosuchus could rear on their hind legs and lunge at their prey to attack. For this to happen, they would need incredibly strong rear legs and leg mobility which many early reptiles did not have. Luckily for them, the heel and ankle skeletal formation of the archosaur was very similar to modern crocodiles’. Postosuchus also might have been able to elevate itself off to ground to run on all fours like alligators or crocodiles today, though most of their time would have been spent low to the ground on in the water of shallow streams or rivers.

The environment of Texas during the lifetimes of Postosuchus was tropical and lush in ferns and palm like trees. The area received frequent and heavy rainfall and, as a result, waterways criss-crossed over the land densely.

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