Behind the scenes of the Teylers Museum
Jon Tennant of the Imperial College London visited the museum this week and did research on this specimen from the paleontological collection. This holotype specimen Atoposaurus oberndorfi was bought by curator J.G.S. van Breda in 1863 from Adam August Krantz (1809-1872), dealer in minerals in Bonn from 1850 onwards. The purchase was made along with the other holotypes such as, Pterodactylus longiropteris and Pterodactylus meyeri, based on the book Zur Fauna der Vorwelt (1860) by Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer.
145 to 152 million years ago, Europe as we known it formed a chain of small islands. In what is now Bavarian Germany, a small crocodile, only 15 centimetres in length, lived in a lagoon alongside other much larger crocodiles. With such a small size, Atoposaurus oberndorferi is commonly known as a ‘dwarf’ species, although some scientists believe it may be a juvenile of another closely related species from the same time and place. Atoposaurus is also known by a species from France, Atoposaurus jourdani.
Text and photo by Jon Tennant