Article: A long-snouted dyrosaurid (Crocodyliformes, Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Paleocene of Morocco: phylogenetic and palaeobiogeographic implications
New material of a long-snouted dyrosaurid has been discovered in the Paleocene of Morocco. It consists of a well-preserved skull with embedded mandible and four dorsal vertebrae. The particularly elongate snout, proportionally the longest of all known dyrosaurids, allows precise identification of this material as Atlantosuchus coupatezi Buffetaut, 1979a, and presentation of an emended diagnosis for this species previously known only from a mandibular symphysis. A phylogenetic analysis of the dyrosaurids indicates a close relationship between A. coupatezi and Rhabdognathus. It also confirms a previous hypothesis that Congosaurus is distinct from Hyposaurus. It is more closely related to Atlantosuchus than Hyposaurus. The analysis also allows palaeobiogeographic interpretations to be made. Dyrosaurids ranged from North Africa to other areas. They were rare during the Maastrichtian and endemic to each continent at this time. Competition with large marine reptiles, such as mosasaurs, limited their dispersal during the Late Cretaceous. The disappearance of these rivals during the ‘K-T crisis’ enabled their diversification and widespread dispersal during the Paleocene, with the same genera present on several continents.