Dimetrodon: All You Need To Know About The Dinosaur-Like Creature
The word dimetrodon has a Greek origin. It means “two measures of teeth”. Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur, although it used to be mistakenly thought of as such. But the fact is that these creatures were widespread on the planet tens of millions of years before the earliest dinosaurs could be seen. So what was a dimetrodon and what facts are known about it?
When did dimetrodon live
Although at first glance it may seem like a dinosaur, dimetrodon is not a dinosaur. The creature lived about 280 million years before humans, and the first dinosaurs appeared 233 years ago. The Permian fauna was represented by many predators, but dimetrodon was the largest of them. It belongs to the family Sphenacodontidae and was one of the most widespread members of it. Today there are known more than 10 species of dimetrodon. Interesting! The members of the family Sphenacodontidae have more in common with Therapsids (mammal-like reptiles) than archosaurs (dinosaur ancestors). Therefore, theoretically, dimetrodon was more to mammals than dinosaurs.So when asking the question: are humans related to dimetrodon, the answer is yes, we are.
How big was dimetrodon
Scientists have found a huge number of fossilized remains of dimetrodon. Thanks to this, they managed to make accurate assumptions about its appearance and features. For example, paleontologists believe that the sexes differed significantly from each other in height, bone size and sail size. Males were larger in height and weight, had thicker bones and larger sails. And the dimetrodon species were of different sizes. For example, Dimetrodon miller (the earliest Dimetrodon species found in Texas) reached a length of up to 174 cm. The skull of Dimetrodon natalis, the smallest species, was 14 cm long., and the creature weighed up to 37 kg. In turn, the skull of Dimetrodon limbatus, the most studied species, reached 40 cm in length, and the total length of this species was 2.6 m. The largest species, Dimetrodon angelensis, reached a length of 4.5 meters and its skull was 58 cm long. With the sail it could reach 180 centimeters in height.
What did Dimetrodon look like?
The largest Dimetrodon, with its tail, was the size of a modern car, and an enormous sailing-like growth on its back gave it an even larger appearance. Dimetrodon had a powerful physique, and both hind and front limbs of this animal were short and massive, the jaws strong, with sharp teeth. Such limbs had to be able to support the body weight of this gigantic creature. Its limbs were fitted under its torso, so scientists believe that dimetrodon moved on the ground like modern lizards.It was probably a rather slow animal. There is no exact information on how much dimetrodon weighed, but it is assumed that its weight was quite considerable.
How does Dimetrodon use its sail
The most remarkable feature of the demetrodon is the sail. Its functions are not precisely known. Most scientists believe that the “sail” helped maintain an optimal body temperature: in the sun the blood in the blood vessels of the sail was heated, and in the shade – cooled. There is a strong possibility that Dimetrodon was cold-blooded, or his ability to maintain a constant body temperature was poorly developed. Also it is possible that the sail was brightly colored to attract sexual partners. It may also have served for camouflage among the upright stems of plants or as a real sail when swimming. Most researchers agree, however, that the sail helped the dimetrodon warm up with the warmth of the sun. Most likely, blood vessels ran in the grooves at the base of the outgrowths. The sail was richly supplied with blood, which was used as water in the central heating system, spreading heat throughout the body of dimetrodon. Scientists estimate that with its help dimetrodon could warm up to 32 degrees in 80 minutes, instead of 205 minutes in its absence. Once warmed up, dimetrodon could successfully attack other reptiles that were still cold and lethargic. To avoid overheating, at noon the dimetrodon would move into the shade where the sail would cool down or the creature could simply sink its sail into the water. The sail-like outgrowth was located on the back of the dimetrodon from the neck to the pelvis. It is thought that the length of the spinous appendages of dimetrodon increases in a diphtherian way in comparison with other linear dimensions, so that the area of this sail increases in proportion to the volume of the body.
Where did dimetrodon live
Demetrodonians led a terrestrial, unhurried lifestyle. This is evidenced by their large size and anatomical features. Young and adults Demetrodons lived separately. Scientists speculate that the first lived in the thickets on the banks of bodies of water, while the second could be found in forests and on the plains. It is possible that the adults often killed the young, thereby eliminating competitors as modern Lions do.
Dimetrodons were not the only creatures that had a sail
Edaphosaurus is externally similar to dimetrodon. At first glance, it even appears to be a diminutive double of our hero, with a tiny head and a miniature sail. however, edaphosaurus mainly fed on plants and mollusks. Dimetrodon, on the other hand, was an exclusive carnivore and a devoted meat-eater. And perhaps edaphosaurus meat was also part of its diet.
What does dimetrodon eat
Dimetrodon was one of the largest and most ferocious predators at the time of its existence Dimetrodons fed on any creature they could handle. Scientists believe that this predator preyed mainly on amphibians, edaphosaurus, reptiles, and fish.
Why did dimetrodon go extinct
The exact cause of the extinction of dimetrodons is still unknown, but some researchers have put forward a version according to which the animals could not withstand competition with more highly evolved animals.
Where was dimetrodon found
The first dimetrodon remains were found in the late 19th century. And illustrations from that period depicted individuals with a small tail. The fact is that all the remains found at that time lacked tail bones, so scientists could only speculate about their size. And in 1927, the first identified “tailed” dimetrodon was found in Texas. And now we know exactly what its tail looked like and what its size was. Dimetrodon fossils were found only in North America and Western Europe.
Dimetrodon had two different types of teeth
Despite the fact that the bones of Dimetrodon’s skull were quite thin, with its strong jaws, dotted with sharp teeth, it dug into the flesh of its prey with a deadly grip. Scientists found two different types of teeth (incisors and fangs) in the remains of his jaw. This is one of its many distinguishing features from reptiles. In the front part of the muzzle were sharp fangs, which helped to tear recently killed prey. The backward-curved teeth were used to chop tough muscles and crush bones. Interestingly, from the remains, the teeth of the animal evolved over time.The earliest members of the species had straight teeth with cutting edges. The later species already had small saw-like teeth. And the most recent species had sharp cutting teeth of two kinds. The change in tooth morphology occurred without changing the shape of the skull. Paleontologists believe that the change in tooth morphology was caused by a prolonged struggle between dimetrodonts and their contemporaries, Sphenacodonts, as well as by a change in “eating habits” and intraspecific interactions. Sphenacodonts had similar skull anatomy and fed on the same prey.
Dimetrodon laid eggs
Paleontologists believe that dimetrodon, like today’s reptiles, may have been an oviparous animal. An egg shell was found next to the remains of Dimetrodon, probably an egg shell of Dimetrodon or similar animals.