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Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire's unfinished study on fossil crocodiles



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new online paper about the history of paleontology (in French). The
online preview has illustrations.

Arnaud Brignon (2013)
L’étude inachevée d’Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire sur les crocodiles
fossiles (Thalattosuchia) de Normandie à la lumière de documents
inédits.
[Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire's unfinished study on fossil
crocodiles (Thalattosuchia) from Normandy in light of unrecorded
documents.]
Annales de Paléontologie (advance online publication)
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annpal.2013.02.001
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753396913000177

An unrecorded manuscript dated 30 May 1831 shows that Étienne Geoffroy
Saint-Hilaire was making drawings and engravings of three new species
of fossil crocodiles (Mesoeucrocodylia, Thalattosuchia) from the
Jurassic of Normandy (France). The three species are named
Steneosaurus aubignensis, Steneosaurus quillensis and Teleosaurus
microtrèmes. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire was planning to publish a detailed
descriptive work on these “grands sauriens fossiles de Normandie” that
he saw during two successive visits in Caen (Normandy) in late 1830
and early 1831. Unpublished letters housed in the Library of Caen and
The American Philosophical Society, as well as publications of
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire allow to trace the different steps of this
project that he planned to achieve in close collaboration with
Jacques-Amand Eudes-Deslongchamps. This project never saw the light of
day. Based on the specimens which Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire had knowledge
then, the first two new species are shown to correspond to
Teleidosaurus calvadosii and Steneosaurus megistorhynchus,
respectively. It is also shown that Teleosaurus microtrèmes represents
the new name that Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire wanted to choose for
Teleosaurus cadomensis, in order to replace the specific name proposed
by Lamouroux in 1820. Finally, based on the details given by this
unrecorded document, the never published engravings ordered by
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire have been discovered in the personal library of
Georges Cuvier housed in the library of the National Museum of Natural
History, Paris. These long-lost and unrecorded plates are figured and
described for the first time.