Jaw mechanism and dental function in the late cretaceous basal eusuchian Iharkutosuchus

Attila Osi, David B. Weishampel

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34 Scopus citations


Iharkutosuchus makadii is a basal eusuchian crocodylian with multicusped teeth discovered from the Upper Cretaceous of Hungary. Skull and dentition morphology indicates an active food processing for this crocodylian. First among crocodylians, a combination of different analyses, including cranial adductor muscle reconstruction, tooth wear pattern, and enamel microstructure studies, is applied here to support this hypothesis. Data provide unambiguous evidence for significant dental occlusion that was a result of a unique, transverse mandibular movement. Reconstruction of the jaw adductors demonstrates strong muscles responsible for slow but active jaw closure as the motor of transverse jaw movement; nevertheless muscles producing rapid jaw closure were reduced. Macrowear orientations show a dominantly transverse movement of the mandibles completed by a slight anteroposterior component. Along with quadrate morphology, macrowear further indicates that this motion was accomplished by alternate rotation of the mandibles about the quadrate condyles. Dental morphology and wear patterns suggest two types of power stroke: a slicing-crushing stroke associated dominantly with anterior tooth-food-tooth contact (with a low degree of transverse mandibular movement) during in the early stage of mastication, and a grinding stroke with significant posterior tooth-tooth contact and a dynamic transverse movement occurring later. The patterns of microwear show a diverse diet for Iharkutosuchus including both soft and hard items. This is also supported by the microstructure of the thick, wrinkled enamel built up mostly by poorly developed columnar units. Based on wear patterns, ontogenetic variation in feeding habits of Iharkutosuchus is also recognized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-920
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Morphology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Crocodylia
  • Dental wear
  • Iharkutosuchus
  • Jaw mechanism
  • Late cretaceous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


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