Differences between phytosaurs and crocodiles
Though phytosaurs such as Smilosuchus gregorii bear a superficial resemblance to modern crocodilians, many differences separate the two groups. One of the major differences is the position of the nares, or nostrils. In crocodilians, the nostrils are at the end of the snout. This is not the case in phytosaurs, where they are often in the middle of the snout, positioned at the level of the eyes or higher. Additionally, phytosaurs lack the bony palate that facilitates breathing in crocodiles when the mouth is full of water. In humans, the bony palate is the roof of the mouth. While it is possible that phytosaurs could have approximated this feature with a fleshy palate, like seen in the back of the mouth in humans, it would have been structurally different from crocodiles. The structure of the ankle joint is the final difference between phytosaurs and crocodilians, with the phytosaur’s ankle far more primitive than their distant modern relatives (1).
- 1. Nesbitt, Sterling J. "The early evolution of archosaurs: relationships and the origin of major clades." Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History (2011): 1-292.
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