Notosuchia is a suborder of primarily Gondwanan mesoeucrocodylian crocodylomorphs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. Some phylogenies recover Sebecosuchia as a clade within Notosuchia, others as a sister group (see below); if Sebecosuchia is included within Notosuchia its existence is pushed into the Middle Miocene, about 11 million years ago. Fossils have been found from South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Notosuchia was a clade of terrestrial crocodilians that evolved a range of feeding behaviours, including herbivory (Chimaerasuchus), omnivory (Simosuchus), and terrestrial hypercarnivory (Baurusuchus). It included many members with highly derived traits unusual for crocodylomorphs, including mammal-like teeth, flexible bands of shield-like body armor similar to those of armadillos (Armadillosuchus), and possibly fleshy cheeks and pig-like snouts (Notosuchus). The suborder was first named in 1971 by Zulma Gasparini and has since undergone many phylogenetic revisions.
|Mounted skeleton of the notosuchian Simosuchus clarki in the Royal Ontario Museum|
|Families and genera|
Notosuchians were generally small, with slender bodies and erect limbs. The most distinctive characteristics are usually seen in the skull. Notosuchian skulls are generally short and deep. While most are relatively narrow, some are very broad. Simosuchus has a broadened skull and jaw that resembles a pug, while Anatosuchus has a broad, flat snout like that of a duck.
The teeth vary greatly between different genera. Many have heterodont dentitions that vary in shape across the jaw. Often, there are large canine-like teeth protruding from the front of the mouth and broader molar-like teeth in the back. Some genera, such as Yacarerani and Pakasuchus, have extremely mammal-like teeth. Their molars are complex and multicuspid, and are able to occlude or fit with one another. Some forms such as Malawisuchus had jaw joints that enabled them to move the jaw back and forth in a shearing motion rather than just up and down.
A derived group of notosuchians, the baurusuchids differ considerably from other forms. They are very large in comparison to other notosuchians and are exclusively carnivorous. Baurusuchids have deep skulls and prominent canine-like teeth.
The evolutionary interrelationships of Notosuchia are in flux, but the following genera are generally considered notosuchians:
|Turonian - Santonian||
A carnivore with a very short, high skull and large eye sockets
|Aptian - Albian||
A small notosuchian under 1 metre (3.3 ft) long with a duck-like snout
|Albian - Maastrichtian||
Six species are known, the most of any notosuchian
|Turonian - Santonian||A sphagesaurid with armadillo-like armor shields.|
A large hypercarnivore 3.5 to 4 metres (11 to 13 ft) in length
|Turonian – Santonian|
|Turonian – Santonian|
|Aptian - Albian|
|Coniacian – Santonian|
A possible burrower that could move its jaw back and forth while eating
|Campanian - Maastrichtian|
|Turonian - Santonian|
|Coniacian - Santonian||
A notosuchian that may have had a pig-like snout
|Albian||A notosuchian with very complex, mammal-like heterodont teeth.|
|Campanian – Maastrichtian|
|Middle Jurassic (Bathonian)||
The earliest known member of the group.
|Maastrichtian||A broad-snouted omnivore with clove-shaped teeth|
An omnivorous notosuchian
|Turonian – Santonian|
|Santonian - Campanian|
|Turonian-Santonian||Cajones Formation||A notosuchian with rabbit-like incisors found in association with a probable nest|
The clade Notosuchia has undergone many recent phylogenetic revisions. In 2000, Notosuchia was proposed to be one of two groups within the clade Ziphosuchia, the other being Sebecosuchia, which included deep snouted forms such as baurusuchids and sebecids. The definition of Notosuchia by Sereno et al. (2001) is similar to that of Ziphosuchia as it includes within it Sebecosuchia. Pol (2003) also includes Sebecosuchia within Notosuchia. More recently, a phylogenetic analysis by Larsson and Sues (2007) resulted in the naming of a new clade, Sebecia, to include sebecids and peirosaurids. Baurusuchidae was considered to be polyphyletic in this study, with Pabwehshi being a basal member of Sebecia and Baurusuchus being the sister taxon to the clade containing Neosuchia and Sebecia. Thus, Sebecosuchia was no longer within Notosuchia and not considered to be a true clade, while Notosuchia was found to be a basal clade of Metasuchia.
The following cladogram simplified after the most comprehensive analysis of notosuchians as of 2014, presented by Pol et al. in 2014. It is based mainly on the data matrix published by Pol et al. (2012) which is itself a modified version of previous analyses. Thirty-one additional characters were added from other comprehensive analyses of notosuchians, e.g. Turner and Sertich (2010), Andrade et al. (2011), Montefeltro et al. (2011), Larsson and Sues (2007), and Novas et al. (2009), and 34 characters were noval, resulting in a matrix that includes 109 crocodyliforms and outgroup taxa which are scored based on 412 morphological traits.
This cladogram represents the results of the most comprehensive analysis of notosuchian relationships to date, performed in the description of Antaeusuchus taouzensis by Nicholl et al. 2021. It is largely based on the matrix from the above Pol et al. 2014 study, but also adding character scores from Leardi et al. 2015, Fiorelli et al. 2016, Leardi et al. 2018, and Martinez et al. 2018. The final matrix consisted of 121 taxa scored for 443 morphological traits.
- Dal Sasso C, Pasini G, Fleury G, Maganuco S. (2017) Razanandrongobe sakalavae, a gigantic mesoeucrocodylian from the Middle Jurassic of Madagascar, is the oldest known notosuchian. PeerJ 5:e3481 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3481
- Gasparini, Z. (1971). "Los Notosuchia del Cretácico de América del Sur como un nuevo Infraorden de los Mesosuchia (Crocodilia)". Ameghiniana. 8: 83–103.
- Ortega, F. Z.; Buscalioni, A. D.; Calvo, J. O. (2000). "A new species of Araripesuchus (Crocodylomorpha, Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Lower Cretaceous of Patagonia (Argentina)". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 20 (1): 57–76. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2000)020[0057:ANSOAC]2.0.CO;2.
- Pol, D. (2003). "New Remains of Sphagesaurus huenei (Crocodylomorpha: Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Late Cretaceous of Brazil". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 23 (4): 817–831. doi:10.1671/A1015-7. S2CID 86592576.
- Larsson, H. C. E.; Sues, H.-D. (2007). "Cranial osteology and phylogenetic relationships of Hamadasuchus rebouli (Crocodyliformes: Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Cretaceous of Morocco". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 149 (4): 533–567. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2007.00271.x.
- Pol, D.; Nascimento, P. M.; Carvalho, A. B.; Riccomini, C.; Pires-Domingues, R. A.; Zaher, H. (2014). "A New Notosuchian from the Late Cretaceous of Brazil and the Phylogeny of Advanced Notosuchians". PLOS ONE. 9 (4): e93105. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...993105P. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093105. PMC 3973723. PMID 24695105.
- Nicholl CS, Hunt ES, Ouarhache D, Mannion PD (2021). "A second peirosaurid crocodyliform from the Mid-Cretaceous Kem Kem Group of Morocco and the diversity of Gondwanan notosuchians outside South America". Royal Society Open Science. 8 (10): Article ID 211254. doi:10.1098/rsos.211254.