Susisuchus anatoceps, a new crocodilian from the Early Cretaceous of north-eastern Brazil. From Salisbury et al. (2003).

Australian Cenozoic crocodilians

The majority of Australia's Cenozoic crocodilians are thought to belong to endemic radiation known as Mekosuchinae. Despite their apparent ecological and geographical diversity, many of these crocodilians went extinct on the Australian mainland not long after the arrival of Crocodylus, sometime towards the end of the Pliocene. By the end of the Pleistocene, all of them had vanished. On many of the South Pacific islands, however, some mekosuchines persisted. Some, such as New Caledonia'sMekosuchus inexpectatus, survived into historic times. Ongoing research into these crocodilians is being conducted in collaboration with Dr Paul Willis, Dr Ralph Molnar and Tim Holt, a former Honours student at The University of Queensland.

Cretaceous crocodilians

Eusuchia is the group that includes all living crocodilians - true crocodiles, alligators and caimans, and gharials. Eusuchians first appear in the fossil record during the Early Cretaceous.  With the discovery of Isisfordia in the 98–95 million year old rocks of the Winton Formation near Isisford, central-western Queensland, there is now good evidence to believe that eusuchians originated in the Australian part of Gondwana.  Some of the immediate precursors to Isisfordia are also Gondwanan, such as Susisuchus, from the Early Cretaceous of north-eastern Brazil.  

In addition to further research on Isisfordia, much of our research into the origin of eusuchians focuses on their immediate precursers, the 'advanced' neosuchians. Various types of neosuchians are known from the Early Cretaceous Purbeck and Wealden Groups of southern England. This material includes goniopholidids, atoposaurids and pholidosaurids. Reviewing the taxonomy and osteology of many of these crocodilians and their continental counterparts has proved to be the basis of much fruitful collaboration. 

Research on exciting new neosuchian fossils from the Araripe Basin of north-eastern Brazil is being conducted in collaboration with Dr Eberhad 'Dino' Frey, Marie-Céline Buchy (Universität Karlsruhe, Germany) and Dr Dave Martill (University of Portsmouth, UK). 

Selected publications

Hanson, J.O., Salisbury, S.W., Campbell, H.A., Dwyer, R.G., Jardine, T.D. and Franklin, C.E. Feeding across the food-web: the interaction between diet, movement, and body size in estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). Austral Ecology. (in press)

Syme, C.E. and Salisbury, S.W. 2014. Patterns of aquatic decay and disarticulation in juvenile Indo-Pacific crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), and implications for the taphonomic interpretation of fossil crocodyliform material. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 421, 108–123. pdf

Salisbury, S.W. and Naish, D. 2011. Crocodilians. Pp. 305–369 in D.J. Batten (ed.) English Wealden fossils. Palaeontological Association Field Guides to Fossils 14. Palaeontological Association, London. 769 pp.

Salisbury, S.W., Holt, T., Worthy, T.H., Sand, C. and Anderson, A. 2010. New material of Mekosuchus inexpectatus (Crocodylia: Mekosuchinae) from the Late Quaternary of New Caledonia, and the phylogenetic relationships of Australasian Cenozoic crocodylians. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 30(Supplement to Number 5): 155A.

Frey, E., and S. W. Salisbury. 2007. Crocodilians of the Crato Formation: evidence for enigmatic species; pp. 463-474, pls 20-21 in D. M. Martill, G. Bechly, and R. F. Loveridge (eds.), The Crato Fossil Beds of Brazil - window into an ancient world. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Salisbury, S. W., Molnar, R. E., Frey, E. & Willis, P. M. A. 2006. The origin of modern crocodyliforms: new evidence from the Cretaceous of Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B273, 2439-2448. pdfESM

Schwarz, D. & Salisbury, S. W. 2005. A new species of Theriosuchus (Atoposauridae, Crocodylomorpha) from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian) of Guimarota, Portugal.Geobios. (in press) 

Holt, T. R., Salisbury, S. W. & Willis, P. M. A. 2005. A new species of mekosuchine crocodilian from the Middle Palaeogene Rundle Formation, central Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum50 (2), 212-222. 

Salisbury, S. W., Frey, E., Martill, D. M. & Buchy, M.-C. 2003. A new crocodilian from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation of north-eastern Brazil. Palaeontographica, Abteilung A (Paläontologie - Stratrigraphie), 270 (1-3), 3-47. 

Salisbury, S. W. 2002. Crocodilians from the Lower Cretaceous (Berriasian) Purbeck Limestone Group of Dorset, southern England. In Milner, A. R. (ed). Life and environments of Purbeck times, Special Papers in Palaeontology. The Palaeontological Association, London. 

Rossmann, T., Berg, D. E. and Salisbury, S. W. 1999. Studies on Cenozoic crocodiles: 3. Gavialosuchus cf. gaudensis (Eusuchia: Tomistomidae) from the Lower Miocene of south Germany. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte1999 (6), 321-330. 

Salisbury, S. W., Willis, P. M. A., Peitz, S. and Sander, P. M. 1999. The crocodilian Goniopholis simus from the Lower Cretaceous of north-western Germany. 121-148 In Unwin, D. M. (ed). Cretaceous Fossil Vertebrates, Special Papers in Palaeontology, No. 60. The Palaeontological Association, London. 

Salisbury, S. W. and Willis, P. M. A. 1996. A new crocodylian from the Early Eocene of southeastern Queensland and a preliminary investigation of the phylogenetic relationships of crocodyloids. Alcheringa., 20, 179-226.