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Crocopocalypse exposed in public for the first time!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Tet Zoo regulars will remember the detailed montage I’ve produced that hopefully gives some idea of crocodylomorph diversity (Crocodylomorpha = the archosaur clade that includes modern crocodylians and all taxa closer to them than to croc-branch members of Archosauria like the aetosaurs and rauisuchians. Crocodylomorpha is basically equivalent to ‘Crocodilia’ of tradition; most members of the clade belong to Crocodyliformes [see links below for elaboration on this issue]). Thanks to Henry Peihong Tsai, I’ve taken to calling it the Crocopocalypse picture. In its ‘parade’ version, this illustration was featured here back in September 2012 (though with inaccurate metriorhynchoids that I later modified). Here it is again…

Image by Darren Naish.

Incidentally, the image is also used as the background to the TetZoo podcast page. What? You didn’t know that there’s a TetZoo podcast? Well, now you do. It’s joint-run by myself and John Conway; we seek sponsorship and listener feedback, and many thanks to those who have provided such thus far.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say that some people liked and appreciated the image so much so that they decided to incorporate it into a museum display. Specifically, the piece was used in the Florida Museum of Natural History’s special Titanoboa exhibit in a panel devoted to dyrosaurids (a long-snouted Cretaceous-Paleogene crocodyliform clade). Here it is, courtesy of the museum (apologies for small size and low resolution, best I can do)…

Reproduced with permission of Florida Museum of Natural History; thanks to Kristina Choe and colleagues.

It’s very neat to see one of my own images featuring in a museum display (it’s not the first time this has happened, actually, but, hey, it’s still neat). The Titanoboa exhibit (titled Titanoboa: Monster Snake) has been on display at Gainesville since January and will be there until August; do let me know if you go see it. Among other things, it features the awesome life-sized Titanoboa model you might have seen on TV or in the press. How I would love to see it in life.

If you’re curious about where dyrosaurids seem to fit within crocodylomorph diversity, the simplified cladogram below shows the currently favoured position. They’re not especially close to Crocodylia, the crocodylomorph crown-clade (the clade subtended by extant species)…

Image by Darren Naish.

For previous Tet Zoo articles on crocodylomorphs fossil and modern, see…

Darren Naish About the Author: Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Hastley 1:11 pm 05/9/2013

    You know, if you made a high-resolution print of that available (maybe, I’d buy it. Maybe include a legend of some kind. People are always stunned when I tell them about the diversity of extinct crocodilians, and this image would be a great illustration to just hang on the office wall.

    Link to this
  2. 2. naishd 1:23 pm 05/9/2013

    Hey, great idea. HOWEVER… wait a little longer and let’s see what happens…


    Link to this
  3. 3. David Marjanović 5:41 am 05/10/2013

    Whoa. One of the metriorhynchids is really ichthyosaur-like.

    The teleosaurid has a surprisingly short and low tail. Is that real?

    I’d buy it.


    Link to this
  4. 4. naishd 7:06 am 05/10/2013

    David: the big metriorhynchids at back left are Plesiosuchus and the especially deep-skulled Dakosuchus; there’s a smaller, more dainty Metriorhynchus to the right of them both. The teleosaurid is Pelagosaurus, reconstructed after Pierce & Benton (2006). I may inadvertently have made the tail a little too short, but it’s probably tall enough (the John Sibbick reconstructions in Pierce & Benton (2006) don’t even show the triangular dorsal scutes on the tail, so their version of the tail is even lower).


    Link to this

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