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Phytosaurs belong to the family Phytosauridae and the order Phytosauria.

Also, phytosaurs lack the bony secondary palate that enables crocodiles to breathe even when the mouth has much water.

However, it is possible that phytosaurs had a fleshy palate, as many Mesozoic crocodiles are presumed to have had.

Modern crocodilians exhibit a similar morphological diversity, for example the broad snouted altirostral alligator and the long snouted dolichorostral gavial.

Various phytosaurs have crests and similar ornamentions in their snouts.

Dolichorostral ("long snouted") phytosaurs have a long, slender snout with many conical teeth that are homodont (all the same), these taxa were most likely piscivores that were well adapted to capture fast aquatic prey, but not terrestrial animals.

Paleorhinus, Rutiodon and Mystriosuchus are dolichorostral phytosaurs, but do not form a distinct group of taxa (named Mystriosuchinae of Friedrich von Huene) as other morphotypes such as Pseudopalatus are more closely related to Mystriosuchus than it is to the other long-snouted taxa.Abler also examined a phytosaur's teeth, finding that it had had serrations so fine that they resembled a crack in the tooth.Phytosaurs have been traditionally held as rather "primitive" animals in regards to terrestrial locomotion, particularly in regards to archosaurs such as crocodilians, lacking the erect gait seen in these, other pseudosuchians, dinosaurs and pterosaurs.The large, slim shell has a varying length between 44 mm and 129 mm, it is irregularly clouded with pink-white and chestnut or chocolate, with fine close revolving striae, forming the darker ground-color by close colored lines.The pointed spire is tessellated with chestnut or chocolate and white, its shoulders are rounded and its sutures deep.The name of the group - Phytosauria - was coined by the German paleontologist Hermann von Meyer in 1861, on the basis of this first species.

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