Jump to branches within the Diapsid tree
Diapsida : Archosauromorpha : Archosauriformes

Lower Triassic croc-like reptiles

A reconstruction of Erythrosuchus.
Erythrosuchids were large terrestrial predators of the Lower Triassic. Like living crocodiles, they used a semi-erect limb posture, intermediate between the sideways-sprawling posture of lizards and the fully erect posture of dinosaurs, birds, and mammals, in which the limbs are held directly under the body. The largest erythrosuchids were up to five meters long, with heads almost a meter long. They probably looked like land-living crocodiles, although with longer legs, taller, narrower skulls, and less armor. In their time, erythrosuchids were the largest and most fearsome predators that had ever existed on Earth. Erythrosuchid fossils have been found on every continent except North America and Antarctica. They disappeared in the Middle Triassic, when the large predator role passed to more advanced archosaurs like rauisuchians.


  • Benton, M.J. 2005. Vertebrate Palaeontology, 3rd Ed. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA. 455 pp.
  • Carroll, R.L. 1988. Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. 698 pp.

Text by Matt Wedel, 5/2007; Erythrosuchus image by Dmitry Bogdanov (CC BY 3.0)