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Altirostral ("high snouted") animals are intermediate between the two distinct types, they had heterodont dentition but not as extremely developed as the brachyrostral type.
Finally, and most noticeably, phytosaurs had nostrils placed near or above the level of the eyes, in contrast to crocodiles where the nostrils are near the end of the snout, this adaptation may have developed to allow them to breathe while the rest of the body was submerged.Unlike most crocodilians, phytosaurs have tooth serrations, Many species such as Nicrosaurus and Mystriosuchus westphali tend to have snout crests absent in crocodilians, which would perhaps conflict with the use of death rolls.In a 2001 study of the biomechanics of the dinosaur Albertosaurus's teeth, William L.The large, slim shell has a varying length between 44 mm and 129 mm, it is irregularly clouded with pink-white and chestnut or chocolate, with fine close revolving striae, forming the darker ground-color by close colored lines.The pointed spire is tessellated with chestnut or chocolate and white, its shoulders are rounded and its sutures deep.The name of the group - Phytosauria - was coined by the German paleontologist Hermann von Meyer in 1861, on the basis of this first species.
The next species to be described was Belodon plieningeri by von Meyer in von Meyer and Plieninger 1844, the altogether more appropriate name Parasuchia ("alongside the crocodiles", as they resembled crocodiles to a great degree) was coined by Thomas Huxley in 1875 along with his discovery and naming of the Indian species Parasuchus hislopi (Chatterjee, 1978), on the basis of a partial snout.
For many years phytosaurs were considered to be the most basal group of Pseudosuchia (crocodile-line archosaurs), meaning that they were thought to be more closely related to the crocodilians than to birds (the other living group of archosaurs).
Recent studies of the evolutionary relationships of early archosauriforms suggest that phytosaurs evolved before the split between crocodile- and bird-line archosaurs and are the sister taxon of Archosauria.
Phytosaurs belong to the family Phytosauridae and the order Phytosauria.
Phytosauria and Phytosauridae are often considered to be equivalent groupings containing the same species, but some studies have identified non-phytosaurid phytosaurians.
Also, phytosaurs lack the bony secondary palate that enables crocodiles to breathe even when the mouth has much water.