Field of Science

Finally! Aetosaurs in National Geographic Magazine

The most recent issue of National Geographic has an article titled 'When Crocs Ruled' which mainly focuses on the long evolutionary history of the crocodile lineage and the threats extant crocodylians face today. One highlight of the article is the large two page spread of the Desmatosuchus mount from Petrified Forest National Park. It's a nice photo that almost makes me forget about the erroneous armor reconstruction (Unfortuntely, we'll need to remold and cast the whole thing to fix). I'm not as forgiving with the term "croc forerunner" in the title, because as we know aetosaurs were never crocodiles and their lineage did not give rise to the group. Still, I'm thrilled to see an aetosaur displayed prominently in National Geographic (but why not the cover?)

There is also a time line with some great reconstructions that gives props to Triassic forms such as Effigia, Postosuchus, and Proterosuchus. It also gives a good representation of crocodylomorph diversification through the later Mesozoic and Tertiary, something that often gets overshadowed by the dinosaurs, birds, and mammals.

There is also a secondary article by Paul Sereno titled "Strange Crocs of the Sahara", which again tries to demonstrate the great diversity in forms. Although I don't really care for terms such as 'RatCroc', 'DogCroc', and 'DuckCroc' they do seem to get the point across.

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, I think I saw the talk at SVP about making models of "Duckcroc," "Boarcroc," and "Ratcroc." Those terms made me cry. Just use their real names!

    I'll have to check this issue out. Sometimes Nat. Geographic surprises me. And it's about time the crurotarsians got their due.

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  2. ...reminds me of Ernst Haeckel's "Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte" (The Natural History of Creation) from the end 19th century which includes a lecture about "dragons" (=dinosaurs), distinguishing "bear dragons" (=prosauropods), "tiger dragons" (=theropods), "armor dragons" (=pachypods), "bird dragons" (=ornithopods) and "giant dragons" (=sauropods)... hopefully those rather brutal analogizations of Mesozoic crurotarsans to modern animals don't make it either.

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