Classified as a possible Archosauria, Zanclodon is an archosaur that is known from a singular fossil remain, which is its left maxilla. The name Zanclodon means 'scythe tooth'. While not much is known about this genus due to a significant lack of data, it still sheds light on the evolution of members of Archosauria and their types.
Zanclodon existed during the Middle Triassic and may have gone extinct towards the end. These archosaurs most likely occupied the southern parts of Germany, as the fossil was isolated from the Erfurt Formation of that region. They were terrestrial in nature. The type species, which is Zanclodon laevis, had a unique feature, which was the lack of serrated dentition. All the members ascribed to this genus probably had bi-concave vertebrae and short limbs. They were most likely carnivores, and hence, fed on other animals. Other factors related to Zancldon continue to be a mystery. For instance, nothing really is known about their social behaviors, methods of communication, reproductive patterns, and so on. However, in most cases, it can be assumed they displayed similar behavior to other archosaurs.
To learn more about this fascinating archosaur, keep reading!
Zanclodon is pronounced as 'Zan-clo-dawn'. This name was given by Felix Plieninger in the year 1846. Subsequently, the other species included under this genus were named by other authors. For instance, Zanlodon arenaceus was named by Fraas in 1896.
Due to a lack of research, the exact phylogeny of Zanclodon remains to be a matter of debate. However, it was stated with evidence that this extinct animal was a part of the clade Archosauria, and hence, was an archosaur. Additionally, it was part of the class Reptilia, and hence, a reptile, in a much broader sense.
Zanclodon was a part of the Triassic Age, and the earliest known fossils of this species existed during the Middle Triassic, 237-235 million years ago.
The natural history of Zanclodon is not very well-known. So, a lack of remains collected from time periods after the Middle Triassic suggests that these archosaurs may have gone extinct during that era itself.
The remains of Zanclodon laevis were found in Southern Germany. More precisely, this archosaur was a part of the Erfurt Formation, which is also known as the Lower Keuper Formation. This formation is a part of the Germanic Trias supergroup.
The Middle Triassic in Southern Germany probably had dry weather, with warm summers and significantly cold winters. The Zanclodon archosaurs were most likely terrestrial in nature, based on their related phylogeny. So, these members of this extinct genus spent time most of their time on land.
No such discovery has been made to identify the social structure and behavior of Zanclodon archosaurs. While the lack of clustered remains of these archosaurs could point at their solitary nature, it is still not concrete proof. Hence, it is not exactly known who they lived with. In general, archosaurs were solitary in nature, as observed in other genera.
The lifespan of Zanclodon is not yet known. Their modern relatives, crocodiles, live up to 75 years of age. So, it is possible that Zanclodon archosaurs also lived to a similar age.
Belonging to the class Reptilia, Zanclodon certainly reproduced by laying eggs. Just like other dinosaurs, archosaurs, and pterosaurs, embryonic development probably took place inside the eggs. The eggs were most likely hard-shelled, similar to the birds and crocodiles of present times.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of complete archaeological findings, it has been difficult to estimate what the members of this extinct genus precisely looked like. Nevertheless, fragmentary remains have shed light on some of the physical features of Zanclodon.
The type species Zanclodon laevis had different-sized teeth that had an oval cross-section. The teeth appeared to be curved backward and lacked any interdental plates. The implantation of the teeth was thecodont in nature, and hence, quite strong. However, the identifying feature of this archosaur was the lack of serrated teeth.
From the various fossils gathered of the different Zanclodon species, it has been observed that these archosaurs had biconcave vertebrae, which is also quite a unique character. Additionally, they had short limbs and a jaw that was long and strong.
The total number of bones that the members of this Archosaurian genus had is yet to be ascertained since only fragmentary remains have been found. For instance, in the type species Zanclodon laevis, only the left maxilla has been recovered. In the case of Zanclodon cambrensis, the lower jaw seems to be the only remaining proof of the species.
It can be assumed that the Zanclodon was capable of making sounds with their mouths closed since they were part of the Archosauria family. In fact, researchers have often compared these supposed closed-mouth vocalizations with that of birds that we see today since they are one of the living representatives of the family.
The exact size of the Zanclodon has not been estimated due to very few fossils belonging to this genus. However, they were definitely much smaller than the well-known Tyrannosaurus rex, which had a length of 40 ft (12.2m).
Some of the members of the Archosauria family could easily run very fast and breathe at the same time. This was due to the development of a kind of hip joint, which allowed them to have a more erect stance, and hence, aided them in achieving quicker movements. The same can be assumed about Zanclodon.
The weight of Zanclodon remains a matter of mystery. Nevertheless, they probably weren't very heavy, as suggested by the fossil remains of the type species. The modern-day crocodiles, related to the Zanclodon, have a bodyweight of 1076-1107 lb (488-502 kg).
There are no separate names assigned to the male and female members of this genus.
A baby Zanclodon would be known as a hatchling.
Overall, the members of the Archosauria were carnivores, and hence, it is highly likely that they showed at least some levels of aggressiveness. However, the exact behavior of Zanclodon has not been well-studied due to a lack of proof.
Initially, Zanclodon was named Smilodon. However, this genus name was already in use for a saber-toothed cat. Hence, the author Plieninger had to change the genus name to Zanclodon, which means scythe tooth.
*We've been unable to source an image of Zanclodon and have used an image of Plateosaurus trossingensis instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Zanclodon, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]
*We've been unable to source an image of Zanclodon and have used an image of Desmatosuchus instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Zanclodon, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]