A crocodile from the Upper Triassic of Lesotho



In 1963, a specimen of a small, armoured reptile was discovered in the Red Beds formation in the Qacha's Nek Province of Lesotho, southern Africa. Unfortunately, the matrix in which the specimen is embedded is particularly hard and resistant to chemical action. Preparation must therefore be by mechanical means and is not yet complete. However, certain features of the osteology of the skull and postcranial skeleton of the specimen are clear and are described below.

In both skull and postcranial material, features indicating that this is a relatively advanced crocodilian form are present. It will be shown that on the basis of these characters, this form must be included within the order Crocodilia. It is proposed to name this specimen Ortho-suchus stormbergi.

The discovery of a specimen possessing many diagnostic crocodilian characteristics in Upper Triassic beds is remarkable since hitherto it has been considered that these forms did not appear before the Jurassic. Indeed, our knowledge of Jurassic crocodiles is mainly limited to the more aquatic members owing to the dearth of continental deposits.