Karoo Palaeontology Department


Department News

26 October 2010


Erythrosuchus africanus

In 2008 an almost complete, fully articulated skeleton of the extinct archosauriform reptile, Erythrosuchus africanus was discovered by one of the departmental staff. Archosauriforms are a group of reptiles that are the ancestors of crocodiles and dinosaurs. This skeleton is the only known complete articulated specimen of Erythrosuchus and thus provides important information about this genus and the ancestors of dinosaurs.

Erythrosuchus was a 5m long carnivore that was the dominant predator in the Karoo during the Middle Triassic, about 245 million years ago. Our specimen is not quite fully adult, it is about 3.5m long and is probably about 65% of the maximum size of these creatures.

It took the museum fossil preparators nine months to prepare and is now on display in the Palaeontology Hall of the National Museum.

Erythrosuchus skeleton on display
Erythrosuchus africanus skeleton on display (photo by Elsa Kotze)