Who or what was Desmatosuchus? That is a Great Question!

By |2024-04-17T10:09:53+01:00May 22nd, 2009|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|1 Comment

Who or What was Desmatosuchus?

Another unusual question posed today by email from the mother of a young dinosaur fan that had come across a picture of a very odd looking prehistoric animal in a children’s reference book.  We were asked what sort of animal was a Desmatosuchus?


Desmatosuchus (Desmatosuchus haploceras) was certainly not a dinosaur, although these animals did live at the time when the dinosaurs were becoming the established, dominant mega fauna of the Late Triassic.  Desmatosuchus was an aetosaur, a member of the archosaur group from which the Order Dinosauria evolved.  The term aetosaur means “eagle lizards”, as when first studied; it was remarked upon by some scientists how the skulls of these reptiles resembled birds.  All aetosaurs discovered to date seem to have been plant-eaters, slow moving animals covered in varying degrees of dermal armour.

Fossils of Desmatosuchus are associated with the western United States and specimens up to 4 metres long and perhaps representing individuals weighing as much as 500 kilogrammes have been found.

An Illustration of Desmatosuchus

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Like the majority of aetosaurs, Desmatosuchus had heavy body armour consisting of four-sided plates running along its back, encasing the tail and the belly region.  It also had a pair of shoulder horns which were probably used to deter potential attackers.  The posture is typically semi-erect but the bones of the foot and teeth have puzzled scientists.  They are not sure whether Desmatosuchus was semi-aquatic, perhaps filling a niche in the eco-system as a form of Triassic Hippo.

A Model of a Typical Aetosaur (Desmatosuchus)

Desmatosuchus model.

A model of a typical aetosaur (ruler provides scale). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model manufacturer CollectA have earned a reputation for creating models of Triassic prehistoric animals, it may only be a question of time before an aetosaur is added to their already extensive range of Triassic critters.

To view the CollectA Age of Dinosaurs range in stock at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Prehistoric Life Models.