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Archaeopelta, a close relative of Doswellia (Wikimedia Commons)


Doswellia ("from Doswell"); pronounced dahz-WELL-ee-ah


Swamps of North America

Historical Period:

Late Triassic (225-215 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 6 feet long and 100-200 pounds


Possibly omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Relatively small size; elongated body with armor plating on back


About Doswellia:

During the late Triassic period, the ancient reptiles known as archosaurs began to split off into two major groups: the dinosaurs and the crocodiles. Doswellia seems to have been an intermediate form: it had the low, slender, ground-hugging shape of a crocodile, but the armor plating on its back was reminiscent of much later ankylosaur dinosaurs. Further complicating matters, paleontologists can't tell whether Doswellia was a vegetarian or a meat eater: its lower jaw implies a carnivorous lifestyle, but its ponderous gait would have made it fairly unthreatening to prey animals. Unfortunately, the teeth are missing from the only known fossil, so (pending further discoveries) we may never know for sure.


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