An excerpt from the zoological text The Hunter’s Encyclopedia of Animals (First Edition).
CHAPTER II: An overview of the Moga lagiacrus
The Moga lagiacrus (Heres jormungandrii) is
a large, predatory, euryhaline reptile and the sole species in the family
Armutonitridae. It is informally known by a plethora of names, the most common
being lord of the sea, lagia, and sea wyvern. The
lagiacrus is the largest of all marine, brackish, and riparian reptiles,
reaching a weight of 19 tons and 24 meters in length. These ectotherms are
extremely sensitive to cold and are found exclusively in tropical climates,
dispersed throughout the South Elde seas and coastlines. On land, the lagiacrus
is capable of short bursts of speed at a “belly walk” of 15 mph, coupled with
quick, agile torsions of its elongated body; in water, the lagiacrus has been
observed swimming at 32 mph, although when cruising it will reduce its speed to
a lethargic 6 mph.
Originally, lagiacrus were estimated to live 50 years,
based on measurements of lamellar growth rings in bones and teeth. It was later
suggested that these measurements may be an inaccurate way of gauging age.
Lamellar rings reflect changes in growth rates, which correlate directly with
the timeframe of wet/dry season transitions. The inaccurate reliance on
seasonal changes and the fact that the innermost rings degenerate with time
suggest an underestimation of age. A revised longevity is upward of 70 years.
The lagiacrus is a solitary
hunter that frequents both demersal and pelagic habitats, patrolling the reefs
and intertidal zones of coastlines. Lagiacrus are known to swim inland as well,
and lurk within brackish mangrove swamps or freshwater jungles further upriver.
Breeding takes place during the end of the dry season, in which the polygynous
males mate with as many females as they can. They are apex predators, regularly
killing and consuming any individual that wanders into their territory.
The seas of South Elde have been high-trafficked waters
for thousands of years. Merchant ships passing blithely through the territories
of lagiacrus were often sunken. Early Guild cartographers would depict horned
leviathans mantled in lightning, with the oldest known examples of these maps
dating back almost 3000 years. Indigenous peoples of the Moga Archipelago
developed techniques for hunting and tracking lagiacrus thanks to centuries of
cohabiting the same islands. One such technique involves chumming around the
piers, conditioning local sharq populations to regularly visit the area. Sharqs
are highly electroreceptive fish capable of perceiving the electric fields
given off by lagiacrus. Upon detecting the lagiacrus, the sharqs flee, and thus
act as an early warning system for the people of Moga. The lagiacrus is seen as
a harbinger of earthquakes, maelstroms, and famine, with at least an eighth of
all known shipwrecks attributed to it. Harbor and port towns such as Tanzia
specialize in delicacies prepared from grilled and braised tails.
Definition: The clade of the most recent common ancestor of Ceratosaurus and Carnotaurus, and all of that most recent common ancestor’s descendants.
Organisms Within: The clades Ceratosauridae and Abelisauroidea
Time Range: Given this is another node-based clade, we can only guess at when the earliest member of this group evolved. Since earliest known Abelisauroids are from the earliest portion of the Middle Jurassic, it stands to reason that the earliest Neoceratosaur had to evolve before this; the best guess at such is shown below.
Characteristics: This group contains all the more derived members of Ceratosauria, and they remained as weird and strangely diverse as their less derived relatives. The bulk of this group included the Abelisauroids, which ranged from the huge and tiny-armed Carnotaurus to the small and fast Noasaurids.
Neoceratosaurs were relatively medium-sized predators or smaller during the Jurassic; however, the later Abelisaurids that would inhabit mostly the Southern Hemisphere got very large and often were at the top of the food chain in their environments.
The beginning members of this group would probably have had some feathers, though as Abelisauroids evolved, the derived Abelisaurids primarily lost their fluffy covering. Furthermore, Ceratosaurids probably had osteoderms along their back, though this says nothing about the Noasaurid group, which were primarily small and thus probably retained their feathers.
Biogeography: It is very uncertain where Neocreatosauria originated, given that Ceratosaurs were very widespread and Neoceratosaurs were also; early members of Abelisauroidea are not helpful, either, as they are fairly widespread. As such, it is unlikely it will ever be determined where this group first evolved.
Posts about Ceratosauridae and Abelisauroidea to come soon.
Last I checked, it was a clade of croc-line archosaurs, named for their unique interlocking ankle joint. But it includes a family of crocs that AREN’T CROCS, but just outside of archosaurs, meaning Crurotarsi must include ALL ARCHOSAURS, including Ornithodirans, whose defining characteristic is NOT having said interlocking ankle.