New insights into the metabolic rate of early crocodile relatives

Science News
Fossil skull of Saltoposuchus
Fossil skull of Saltoposuchus connectens, Copyright: S. Spiekman

For a long time, the idea of reptiles as lethargic, cold-blooded lizards with slow metabolisms persisted. In recent years, however, this assumption has been increasingly questioned by new studies. Histological methods in particular, which can even be used to examine fossil bone tissue, are providing exciting new insights into the lifestyles of long-extinct animals. This was also the case with the early Triassic crocodile relative Saltoposuchus connectens, which was newly studied by Dr Stephan Spiekman from the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart. His findings were published in the scientific journal "Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society" in June 2023.

The wafer-thin cross-section of a femur showed a high density of blood vessels as well as so-called fibrolamellar tissue - a type of bone found mainly in fast-growing mammals and birds. The discovery suggests that Saltoposuchus connectens also had a fast growth rate and a high metabolism. The slender, long-legged dinosaur can therefore be assumed to have been far more active than previously thought.

Original publication