Basel Collections

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The Basel museum is predominantly a mammal repository. There are a few cabinets of crocodylomorph fossils, mostly scraps. But they do have a few good skulls I was interested in seeing.

There was a nice, nearly complete, 3D Diplocynodon ratelli skull and jaws. Its sutures were almost as good as that braincase in Paris. It’s also an example of why modern fossil restoration doesn’t restore parts with similarly-colored material. Back in the day, fossils were restored purely for display, so they wanted them to look as un-jarring as possible. Nowadays, they care more about making it easier for future scientists to tell what’s real from what’s fake. It’s not always as easy as it sounds because some of them do a really good job of making their parts look real.

You can pretty easily tell by the coloration that part of the tip of its snout is fake here. There are other fake bits visible, like parts of the jaw joints, but the lighting in this picture makes it a little harder to tell.

You can pretty easily tell by the coloration that part of the tip of its snout is fake here. There are other fake bits visible, like the same part of both jaw joints, but the lighting in this picture makes it a little harder to tell. If one couldn’t tell the jaw joints were fake, though, they might code them (and the restorer won’t necessarily have looked at other specimens of the same species to restore them), resulting in false codings.

There were also two skulls of a species that used to be called Hispanochampsa muelleri, but it turned out to be synonymous with Diplocynodon, so now it’s D. muelleri.

Dorsal view of D. muelleri's skull with jaws

Dorsal view of D. muelleri‘s skull with jaws

And the ventral view! Someone prepped out both sides of this slab while still keeping it safely supported by the matrix. Nice prep job!

And the ventral view! Someone prepped out both sides of this slab while still keeping it safely supported by the matrix on the sides. Nice prep job!

They also had a partial skeleton of an Italian Diplocynodon. I had originally planned to go to Italy to see more of them, but that didn’t work out, unfortunately.

Italian Diplocynodon in lignite

Italian Diplocynodon in lignite

They had a few other crocodylomorphs outside the crown group, as well.

Alligatorellium, an atoposaur

Alligatorellium, an atoposaur

Pelagosaurus, a teleosaur (a type of obligately marine croc)

Pelagosaurus, a teleosaur (a type of obligately marine croc)

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