Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order Aetosauria
Family Stagonolepididae
Subfamily Desmatosuchinae
Genus Desmatosuchus
1st Species Desmatosuchus spurensis
2nd Species Desmatosuchus smalli
Other attributes
Time Range 228-210 mya
Location United States of America
Name Meaning Link crocodile
Physical Dimensions 4.5 meters
Dietary Classification Herbivore

Desmatosuchus is a stagonolepidid aetosaurian reptile from the Late Triassic of the United States of America. It was named in 1921 by Ermine Cowles Case. It was one of the most unique Triassic reptiles to ever walk the earth, due to the fact that its anatomy was considerably different from that of other reptiles.


Desmatosuchus was a reptile with a broad body, long legs, and a small head with large jaws. Perhaps the most defining traits of this reptile were the large spines on its shoulders. Its body would have been covered in scaly skin, with body armor covering its back and tail.


Desmatosuchus was an herbivore, feeding on soft vegetation. Its shovel-like snout was used to dig up plants from the ground, while its blunt teeth were used to chew on them.


Due to many small bone beds containing lots of Desmatosuchus individuals, we can assume that the stagonolepidids lived in herds. However, this herding behavior would have not protected it in any way, as the apex predator of the area, Postosuchus, would have also hunted in groups; another defense the aetosaurs would have had against the rauisuchids were their hard body armor, and even then, Desmatosuchus scutes found in Postosuchus skeletons would tell us that the paracrocodylomorphs would have been able to penetrate their defenses. As well as this, Desmatosuchus had huge spines on its shoulders (just above its front legs); despite the fact that they would have been able to protect from predators, they were most likely used for display. It also preferred to feed near rivers, as that was where soft plants grew; it would use its broad snout to dig them up from the ground, right before grabbing them with the front of its jaws (which were toothless) and grinding them up with the teeth in the back of its jaws.

In popular cultureEdit

Desmatosuchus was featured in the 1st episode of the 2001 documentary When Dinosaurs Roamed America, where it is shown as actually being able to defend itself against predators with its armor-plated tail. Due to this, it was hard for any predator in the Triassic forests to take a bite out of the aetosaur, no matter if it was small or mid-sized.

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