Macelognathus vagans was described by O.C. Marsh in 1884, based on a mandibular symphysis from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Wyoming. Often considered a dinosaur but later tentatively referred to the Crocodylia, its phylogenetic identity has until now been enigmatic. New material of this species from the Morrison Formation of western Colorado demonstrates its affinities with basal crocodylomorphs commonly grouped together as the Sphenosuchia, which are characterized by a gracile postcranial skeleton with erect limb posture. Macelognathus shares features with Kayentasuchus from the Lower Jurassic Kayenta Formation of Arizona and Hallopus, which may be from the Morrison Formation of eastern Colorado. The new material constitutes the youngest definitive occurrence of a sphenosuchian, previously known from the Late Triassic to the Middle or Late? Jurassic.

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