Eocene Crocodile

Earlier in the process than the later photos. You can see what it looked like before more of the bone was uncovered.

Like many of you, I’ve been mostly at home, although I’ve gotten out for a couple of hikes and trail runs since the shut down (on top of daily dog walking). Before the shutdown, I was working on a really cool project. I was doing fossil prep work on an Eocene crocodile from Wyoming’s Green River formation.

The crocodile I was working on is likely the largest and most complete crocodile of its kind from this formation. Besides the unique nature of the specific crocodile, it was fascinating to spend time focused on the intricate details of the crocodile skeletal anatomy. The texture of the skull like a sponge, the weird way that the scutes of the croc’s dermal armor were splayed out. How the arms were twisted. The searching for missing parts only to unexpectedly find them somewhere else.

All of this work was interesting but much like a long drive through beautiful country (I think of crossing Utah) it can get boring. I’d load my phone up with podcasts and much like a long road trip, listen while I worked, my mind and body often doing the repetitions automatically.

Now that I’m at home doing only writing work, I miss the hands on aspect of the crocodile, of one physical thing taking up so much time and concentration. Hopefully we’ll all be returning to work soon.

I didn’t get any good photos (my phone’s not very impressive) but here are some to give you an idea about the crocodile I was working on.

The head is on the left (if it’s not clear) the spine curls around to the right making quite a tight arc with most of the tail.
Here’s a closer shot of the head when I was a little further along in the work. You can see some teeth and a smattering of other bones including some osteoderms (or scutes; skin armor bones) that I’ve started to uncover. That upper most fan-shaped bone is a shoulder blade.
This is just a closer look at the skull, again before as much was uncovered.


  1. Thanks! I love your images and information. I came here looking for information on Eocene crocodile scutes and bone to skin attachment. I’m heading down the rabbit hole of the Messel pit in Germany.


    1. Glad you appreciate it. If you have any questions, ask away and I’ll do my best to answer. I’m not a scientist but I spent about a year preparing the crocodile fossil (it’s now completely done or finished on both sides).


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