Description and phylogenetic placement of a new marine species of phytosaur (Archosauriformes: Phytosauria) from the Late Triassic of Austria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Andrew Jones
  • Eric Buffetaut
  • Gerhard Mandl
  • Torsten Scheyer
  • Ortwin Schultz


Phytosaurs are a group of carnivorous, semi-aquatic archosaurian reptiles that attained an almost global distribution during the Late Triassic. We describe a new species of the phytosaur genus Mystriosuchus from the Norian Dachstein Limestone of Austria, from a marine lagoonal depositional environment. The new Austrian material comprises remains of at least four individuals of similar size (c. 4 metres in total length) found in association but disarticulated, and includes one complete and two partial skulls, as well as postcrania. All of these specimens apparently represent a single taxon, which is distinguished by numerous anatomical features from the two previously named Mystriosuchus species. Maximum parsimony analysis of a comprehensive morphological dataset provides strong statistical support for the phylogenetic position of the new Austrian taxon within Mystriosuchus, as the sister taxon to a clade comprising M. planirostris and M. westphali. Histological analysis suggests that the Austrian phytosaur specimens represent individuals that were at least eight years old at time of death, but which had not yet reached skeletal maturity. Taphonomic and palaeoenvironmental data suggest that these phytosaurs were living within the marine lagoon in which they were preserved, providing the strongest evidence to date of marine adaptations in phytosaurs.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-228
Number of pages31
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
Early online date8 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • bone histology, fossils, marine adaptations, morphology, phylogeny, reptiles