REPTILES AND Dinosaurs

Crocodilians

Age - Cretaceous - Miocene
  Commonality - Very uncommon
 

Crocodilian is an order of large reptiles that appeared in the late Cretaceous Period and it includes the alligator, crocodile, gavial and caiman families. Locally, anything found relating to the crocodilian order is usually referred to as "crocodile" or "croc". In the NJ streams, the fossilized remains of these reptiles is usually limited to the isolated tooth and fragments of boney plates called scutes. Croc teeth average about ½ inch in length are generally conical in shape, curved and may posse a very weak cutting edge. The scutes, are dimpled bony plates just under the surface of the skin which served both as body armor and to help regulate body temperature. Blood would pool in these dimples, collecting heat from the sun and be circulated through the rest of the crocodile’s body. Except for the vertebrae, the other fossilized remains are normally too fragmented to make a positive identification.

Author's note: The material on this web page represents "common" stream finds. Further identification is still being researched.
 


 

fossil crocodilian
Scute and tooth

 


 

The teeth have a smooth enamel coating, are conical in shape and curved.
All the crocodile teeth I've found in this area are small, about 1/2 inch in length.
Distinguishing between crocodile teeth and small mosasaur teeth is difficult,
mosasaur teeth are more prismatic in shape with a well defined cutting edge. 
 


 

The roots are hollow, there is a conical indentation at the base
of the crown.
Modern crocodiles shed their teeth, the hollow root gives the replacement
 tooth room to grow.  
 


 

Somewhat less common than the teeth are the boney scutes.
 


 

Left - scute     Right - Stream worn nodule
The streams in Monmouth County, NJ are littered with siderite and
phosphate nodules, on occasion these may resemble crocodile scutes.
Crocodile scutes are relatively thin and smooth on the back, look for
a finished edge. If there is is break, look for the porous structure that
 indicates bone.

 


 

A complete crocodile scute.
Specimen curiosity of Ralph Johnson.

 


 

An assortment of stream worn crocodile teeth. These teeth do not seem
to hold up well to stream wear and teeth in good condition are
difficult to come by.
 


 

An unusual find for this area, Tertiary crocodilian tooth.
Monmouth County, NJ 

 

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