The other day I had to prize the skeletal jaws from a dead hedgehog. Well, ok, I didn’t have to… And what’s with all the Green woodpeckers Picus viridis that are around at the moment? Still, I remain very very busy with day-jobs and conference preparation, but in the interests of – as promised – keeping Tet Zoo ticking over, here is a lovely picture that will have many of you cock-a-hoop with excitement. My god, I’m turning into Mark Witton…
… no, of course not. The picture depicts (left to right) the basal placodont Placodus gigas from Middle Triassic Germany, the cyamodontid cyamodontoid Cyamodus from Middle Triassic Germany, the southern Alps and Poland, and the henodontid cyamodontoid Henodus chelyops from Upper Triassic Germany. Placodus gigas was about 3 m long. Placodonts are just brilliant. They’re basal sauropterygians (within Sauropterygia they’re the sister-taxon to Eosauropterygia: the clade that includes nothosaurs, pistosaurs and plesiosaurs) and – except for one Lower Jurassic tooth described in 1931 – their fossils are restricted entirely to the Triassic. I’ve love to say more, but I can’t. I will later on, I promise.
The picture above is taken from Naish (2004: pdf available).
Ref – –
Naish, D. 2004. Fossils explained 48: placodonts. Geology Today 20, 153-158.