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Phytosaur Scute - Showcase 3.54" Scute with Stand

Phytosaur Scute - Showcase 3.54" Scute with Stand

In the early Mesozoic era, dinosaurs walked the Earth and heavy ferns covered the land in a hot climate, but one familiar danger lurked at the water’s edge: the ancient Phytosaur. This monstrous reptile was an early aquatic predator that struck with terrifying speed and power at anything unfortunate enough to cross its feeding grounds. While it resembled a modern crocodile, the phytosaur is far older and perhaps more frightening than the aquatic reptiles we know today.

This particular specimen is a 3.54" phytosaur fossil scute uncovered from the Redonda formation in New Mexico. The specimen comes with a metal stand customized for this particular fossil. An individual certificate of authenticity is also included.

Scutes, also known as osteoderms, were the primary armor of the Phytosaurs. They are not part of the skeleton but rather a growth within the skin. Osteoderm formation usually begins with small nodules of cartilage around which more dense material forms.

This scute is estimated to be around 210,000,000 years old and likely comes from the Redondasaurus, a genus of phytosaur found in the area. These creatures were some of the most evolutionarily advanced members of the phytosaur family.


Emerging in the Triassic period, the phytosaur was an enormous semi-aquatic reptile, identifiable from their long snouts and scute-armored bodies. This heavy armor protected them from other predators, while their massive jaws secured prey with a powerful bite. Phytosaurs were huge creatures, with some species growing over 20 feet long. This could put them toe to toe with most dinosaurs of the time.

The phytosaur’s teeth varied from species to species, indicating a difference in diet among the creatures. Some had long conical teeth which helped to catch fish and other marine animals. Others had shorter snouts and serrated fangs which cut like blades through the flesh of terrestrial creatures that came to their lakes to drink. Their leg structures also gave some hint to their behavior, with terrestrial feeders having more developed limbs and marine phytosaurs gaining an almost paddle-like adaptation to move through the water.

The Triassic extinction brought about the end of most phytosaur species, with any survivors not making it much further. Their niche as aquatic ambush predators wouldn’t go unfilled though, as creatures like the Spinosaurus and eventually modern crocodilians adapted to survive on the same brutal lifestyle as their ancient predecessor.

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