ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Lazarussuchus is not alive

Updated on August 3, 2016

Some websites are giving out misleading information about this fossil reptile Lazarussuchus. For example, one claims the following to be true:

I kind of like this name, and I like the whole idea of this animal. The Lazarussuchus is a very small crocodile common during late Triassic period. It was assumed to have gone extinct about 170 million years ago. So far two living varieties have been discovered, the first in 1982. A lazarussuchus is very small (a few inches long), which seems to me a good size for a crocodile to be.

There are many mistakes in this quote.

  1. Lazarussuchus is not a small crocodile. It was a fossil reptile known as a choristodere (also known as champsosaurs). Choristoderes are an enigmatic group of fossil reptiles. Researchers disagree as to whether or not they are primitive relatives of lepidosaurs (lizards, snakes, and tuataras) or primitive relatives of archosaurs (birds, crocodiles and dinosaurs).
  2. Lazarussuchus is known from two species, both from the Cenozoic Era (Oligocene-Miocene). The Triassic Period was during the Mesozoic Era. No definite choristoderes are known from the Triassic. The only definite known choristoderes are exclusively from the Cretaceous to the Miocene (roughly 145-15 million years ago). It is possible there was a Late Triassic choristodere, but whether or not this one is actually part of the group or not has been disputed.
  3. If Lazarussuchus had existed and gone extinct 170 million years ago, as the quote claims, would be from the Jurassic Period, not the Triassic Period. The Triassic Period ended roughly 200 million years ago, a difference of 30 million years.
  4. Lazarussuchus is not a living species. It is true there are two known species, but both are only known from fossilized remains.
  5. The first described remains of Lazarussuchus were published in the early 1990s, not in the 1980s.
  6. The image that accompanies the article to show what Lazarussuchus looked like is not in fact a picture of Lazarussuchus at all! It is a picture of the living crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus. Crocodile lizards are named for their superficial resemblance to living crocodylians, just like alligator lizards (Elgaria). But neither crocodile lizards nor alligator lizards are in fact related to crocodylians at all. Instead, they are relatives of monitor lizards (varanids).
  7. The head of Lazarussuchus would have been only a few inches long, not the entire animal. It is true though that it would not be very big.

I don't want to seem to be a grouch, but I don't want people to be confused or appear stupid by citing this animal as being alive.
Choristoderes were very interesting animals about which we do not know very much. I have put a few images of the skulls of other fossil choristoderes (and Lazarussuchus) on this hub. I hope that this is helpful for others. If you want to learn more about choristoderes, please check out these websites:

http://www4.ncsu.edu/~dtksepka/Dan%20Ksepka%20/Choristoderes.html

http://cameronmccormick.blogspot.com/2007/06/those-super-cryptic-choristoderes.html


Click thumbnail to view full-size
The skull of Champsosaurus in dorsal view. Modified from Russell, L. S. 1956. The Cretaceous reptile Champsosaurus natator Parks.The skull of Champsosaurus in multiple views. Modified from Erickson, B. R. 1985. Aspects of Some Anatomical Structures of Champsosaurus (Reptilia: Eosuchia).The skull of Lazarussuchus to show off how clearly unlike the modern crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus) it is, and that it is definitely not a lizard, and most certainly there fore not the crocodile lizard either. Modified from Evans, S.E. and Klembara, The skull of Simoedosaurus in dorsal view. Modified from Erickson, B. R. 1987. Simoedosaurus dakotensis, New Species, a Diapsid Reptile (Archosauromorpha: Choristodera) from the Paleocene of North America.The skull of the living crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus. Compare with fossil choristoderes, and particularly Lazarussuchus. It is clear that these are not the same animals. Image modified from DigiMorph.A photograph of the living crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus. This is the image which accompanies the hub which calls it Lazarussuchus. It is clearly not Lazarussuchus. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
The skull of Champsosaurus in dorsal view. Modified from Russell, L. S. 1956. The Cretaceous reptile Champsosaurus natator Parks.
The skull of Champsosaurus in dorsal view. Modified from Russell, L. S. 1956. The Cretaceous reptile Champsosaurus natator Parks.
The skull of Champsosaurus in multiple views. Modified from Erickson, B. R. 1985. Aspects of Some Anatomical Structures of Champsosaurus (Reptilia: Eosuchia).
The skull of Champsosaurus in multiple views. Modified from Erickson, B. R. 1985. Aspects of Some Anatomical Structures of Champsosaurus (Reptilia: Eosuchia).
The skull of Lazarussuchus to show off how clearly unlike the modern crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus) it is, and that it is definitely not a lizard, and most certainly there fore not the crocodile lizard either. Modified from Evans, S.E. and Klembara,
The skull of Lazarussuchus to show off how clearly unlike the modern crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus) it is, and that it is definitely not a lizard, and most certainly there fore not the crocodile lizard either. Modified from Evans, S.E. and Klembara,
The skull of Simoedosaurus in dorsal view. Modified from Erickson, B. R. 1987. Simoedosaurus dakotensis, New Species, a Diapsid Reptile (Archosauromorpha: Choristodera) from the Paleocene of North America.
The skull of Simoedosaurus in dorsal view. Modified from Erickson, B. R. 1987. Simoedosaurus dakotensis, New Species, a Diapsid Reptile (Archosauromorpha: Choristodera) from the Paleocene of North America.
The skull of the living crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus. Compare with fossil choristoderes, and particularly Lazarussuchus. It is clear that these are not the same animals. Image modified from DigiMorph.
The skull of the living crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus. Compare with fossil choristoderes, and particularly Lazarussuchus. It is clear that these are not the same animals. Image modified from DigiMorph.
A photograph of the living crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus. This is the image which accompanies the hub which calls it Lazarussuchus. It is clearly not Lazarussuchus. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
A photograph of the living crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus. This is the image which accompanies the hub which calls it Lazarussuchus. It is clearly not Lazarussuchus. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • RomerianReptile profile imageAUTHOR

      RomerianReptile 

      8 years ago

      I updated my hub with a link to a blog post I found about choristoderes.

    • RomerianReptile profile imageAUTHOR

      RomerianReptile 

      8 years ago

      Yes, I'm aware of some cryptozoology sites are claiming. But if you refer to the Wikipedia article which cites work by actual researchers on these animals or the webpage I presented by Ksepka (a paleontologist and choristodere researcher), you'll see this isn't the case. I don't know where people got this idea that choristoderes are currently living. It'd be GREAT if they were for all of us, a truly astonishing group, but sadly they are not.

      I can't quite figure out where this initial misconception started, but it certainly seems to have gained momentum.

    • profile image

      pgrundy 

      8 years ago

      BTW--Eventually I will get the time to redo my article but in the meantime, you must know that other articles on the web say the same thing--that it's a living fossil. I take you at your word though.

    • profile image

      pgrundy 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for writing this. I don't think you are a grouch at all. Got my info off the web and it just goes to show you can't trust everything you find! All the best to you! Thanks. :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)