Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

, Volume 90, Issue 1, pp 65–81 | Cite as

Lost in action–the isolated crocodilian teeth from Enspel and their interpretive value

  • Eberhard FreyEmail author
  • Stefanie Monninger
Original paper


Between 1991 and 2009 a total of 50 isolated crocodilian tooth crowns were collected from the Oligocene crater lake Enspel. These tooth crowns are basically conical, with some being channeled and others showing smooth carinae. Due to their insignificant morphology the crown can only be referred to as an Eusuchia indet. All teeth are lacking their roots and therefore are very likely to represent shed teeth. The height range of the Enspel tooth crowns falls within the height variation found for those from extant Eusuchia, such as Osteolaemus and Caiman, and likely come from eusuchans with a body length of about 2 m. The presence of shed teeth proves that eusuchian Crocodilia lived in the Oligocene Lake Enspel. The taphonomy of the Enspel crocodilian tooth crowns contrasts with that of the early Freshwater Molasse locality Langenau near the City of Ulm, where most of the teeth still have their root and thus fell out post mortem, and with that for the Eocene Lake Messel, where isolated crocodilian teeth occur rarer than fully articulated ones of fragmentary skeletons.


Crocodilian teeth Eusuchia Oligocene crater lake Enspel Crocodilia Taphonomy 



We would like to heartily thank Dr. Michael Wuttke (Mainz) for providing the material, reviewing the manuscript, and supporting the scientific analysis of the isolated teeth of Enspel. M. Poschmann (Mainz) provided the photograph of the loon leg with the crocodilian tooth. We also wish to thank Dr. Rupert Wild and Dr. Roland Böttcher (both of Stuttgart) for their gracious loan of the Langenau tooth specimens to Karlsruhe, and the associates of the Geologisch-Paläontologisches Institut der Universität Würzburg for the loan of the Diplocynodon jaw. For their review and critical discussion of the manuscript, we especially thank Dr. Michael Rauhe (Karlsruhe) and Dr. Bernd Herkner (Frankfurt). We also extend our thanks to Mr. Griener (SMNK), who made the photographs of the teeth from Enspel. Special thanks go to Dr. Daniela Schwarz-Wings (Berlin) and Dr. David M. Martill (Portsmouth) for their valuable and challenging comments that helped to improve the quality of the manuscript. Last, but not least we wish to thank Dr. Sinje Weber (Frankfurt), who did an excellent job as an editor in charge.


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg, Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde KarlsruheKarlsruheGermany

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