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Habitat
Type of predator
Living period

Dimetrodon, the mammal-like reptile from Permian

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Description

Dimetrodon (Two measures of teeth) was named by Edward Drinker Cope  who found  it in 1878.Dimetrodon was a Carnivore measuring up to 4 meters long and weighed roughly 550 pounds (250 kg).

Dimetrodon_pair_


This meat-eating animal  lived during the Permian Period, roughly 280 million year ago long before the dinosaurs evolved. It was a so-called mammal-like reptile, an ancestor of the mammals and  belong to the family called Pelycosaurs, which had both mammal and reptile characteristics. Dimetrodon preceded the earliest dinosaurs by more than 40 million years but physically it looked a lot like one. It is often referred to as mammal-like reptile, based on characteristics of the skull and dentition.

Often considered a dinosaur, Dimetrodon was actually one of the pelycosaurs and predated the earliest dinosaurs by tens of millions of years. Its popularity comes from the massive sail that is carried erect on its back, the exact purpose of which is still unknown.The sail may have  been used for mating and dominance rituals, and/or for making it look much larger than it was to predators.

dimetrodon_size_compared_with_human

Another theory is that it was used for temperature regulation. cold blooded animals are always sluggish until they can raise their body temperatures. If Dimetrodon flushed blood into its sail to raise its temperature, it would have had a significant advantage over its prey items that would have still been too slow and sluggish to escape. It is of course entirely plausible that both theories are correct.

Dimetrodon probably sunned itself every day to raise its temperature and leave its cold, sluggish, night-time state. Its sail sped up this process enormously. It has been calculated that an average adult dimetrodon (weighing about 440 pounds = 200 kg) would take about 1 1/2 hours to raise its temperature from 79°C to 90°C (26°C to 32°C).

 Dimetrodon_grandis_Smithsonian

Dimetrodon had a very successful predator design and its broad expanse in the timeline of the fossil record and geographical distribution of remains are proof of this. Aside from the potential advantage of controlled thermoregulation, Dimetrodon had two different kinds of teeth, hence the reason for its name. These teeth consisted of teeth designed for grabbing its prey, and teeth designed for shearing flesh.

The sturdy legs of Dimetrodon were spread beside the body. Judging from the construction of the legs Dimetrodon was a relatively fast and smoothly moving animal, especially compared to its solid build herbivorous relatives. The shape of the hip bones, the hind legs and the joints between the vertebrae can be seen.

Dimetrodon_grandis_

Dimetrodon was one of the first animals with differentiated teeth and the teeth were suitable for killing animals then tearing them to pieces. Dimetrodon has a large skull with a temporal fenestra behind each eye orbit on the lateral surface, a distinguishing feature of synapsid skull.

Dimetrodon_skull_lateral


This made possible new attachment sites for jaw muscles, which could run faster and create mastication. Based on the osteology of the temporal region, the posterior part of the palate and mandible, powerful jaw muscles of Dimetrodon was found to have differentiated. Two groups of muscles have been reconstructed: the adductors and the pterygoideus. 

Species

Authority

Location

Synonyms

Images

Dimetrodon angelensis

Olson, 1962

Texas

   Dimetrodon_angelensis

Dimetrodon booneorum

Romer, 1937

Texas

   

Dimetrodon cruciger

Cope, 1878

Texas

   

Dimetrodon dollovianus

Case, 1907

Texas

Embolophorus dollovianus Cope, 1888

 

Dimetrodon giganhomogenes

Case, 1907

Texas

   Dimetrodon_gigashomog

Dimetrodon gigas

Cope, 1878

Texas

Clepsydrops gigas Cope, 1878

 

Dimetrodon grandis

Romer and Price, 1940

Oklahoma
Texas

Clepsydrops gigas ,Dimetrodon gigas Cope, 1878
Theropleura grandis Case, 1907
Bathyglyptus theodori Case, 1911
Dimetrodon maximus Romer 1936

 Dimetrodon_grandis

Dimetrodon incisivus

Cope, 1878

Texas

   

 Dimetrodon kempae

Romer, 1937

Texas

   

Dimetrodon limbatus

Romer and Price, 1940

Oklahoma
Texas

Clepsydrops limbatus Cope, 1877
Dimetrodon incisivus , Dimetrodon rectiformis  1878
Dimetrodon semiradicatus Cope, 1881

 

Dimetrodon longiramus

Case, 1907

Texas

   Dimetrodon_loomisi

Dimetrodon loomisi

Romer, 1937

Texas
Oklahoma

   

Dimetrodon macrospondylus

Case, 1907

Texas

Clepsydrops macrospondylus Cope, 1884
Dimetrodon platycentrus Case, 1907

 Dimetrodon_milleri

Dimetrodon milleri

Romer, 1937

Texas

   

Dimetrodon natalis

Romer, 1936

Texas

Clepsydrops natalis Cope, 1878

 Dimetrodon_natalis

Dimetrodon occidentalis

Berman, 1977

Arizona
New Mexico
Utah

   

Dimetrodon platycentrus

Case, 1907

Texas

   

Dimetrodon rectiformis

Cope, 1878

Texas

   

Dimetrodon semiradicatus

Cope, 1881

Texas

   

Dimetrodon teutonis

Berman et al., 2001

Germany

   

 


Habitat

Fossils of Dimetrodon were found in USA and Northern Europe.

Time period: Artinskian through to the Capitanian of the Permian.

Dimetrodon_gigas_Eryops_megacephalus

Dimetrodon was a dominant carnivore during the Permian period, living mainly in swampy areas. Unlike their fellow non-finned pelycosaurs, they warmed up early after sunrise, and cooled off more efficiently during the heat of the day. This efficient thermoregulation along with their large and powerful jaws gave them the advantage over their cohorts, making them dominant.


Diet

Dimetrodon was a carnivore with a huge head and mouth, large, powerful jaws, and two types of teeth - sharp canines and shearing teeth. It probably ate other pelycosaurs (its close relatives), insects, and other animals.

Dimetrodon’s diet also could have included freshwater sharks, amphibians, reptiles and other amniotes. The amphibian Eryops and freshwater shark Xenacanthus were prey. Humeruses of Eryops and skulls of Xenacanthus were found to have teeth marks matching the shape of the teeth of Dimetrodon. Dimetrodon probably hunted based on sight and smell. Different types ranged in length from 90 to 400 centimetres (35 to 160 in) and weighing 14 to 300 kilograms (31 to 660 lb).

 

 

Media related

In many popular culture references, Dimetrodon is often erroneously regarded as a dinosaur, or as living alongside dinosaurs.

The first film depiction of Dimetrodon was the 1959 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth.In the 1974 television series Land of the Lost, a very large Dimetrodon-like creature named Torchy first appeared in the Season 3 episode "Cornered". Torchy could breathe fire and would often eat coal to stoke his internal furnace, and fought and defeated the show's female Allosaurus, Big Alice.

Paleoworld, a documentary by the learning channel, featured an episode "Tale of a Sail", which depicted the evolution and the nature of Dimetrodon.

In the television documentary Walking With Monsters (called Before the Dinosaurs in the United States), baby Dimetrodon were shown hatching with sails, fully independent. In fact, no Dimetrodon eggs have yet been found and it is entirely possible that the sail, which would be hard to store in an egg, was either absent or not rigid upon hatching. Hatchlings were portrayed sprinting towards trees after hatching in order to escape cannibalistic adults, behaviors based on the modern Komodo Dragon. Dimetrodon was also shown as having an egg-laying style similar to the modern crocodile, though no evidence regarding Dimetrodon reproduction has ever actually been found. Additionally, Dimetrodon were shown to eat ninety percent of a carcass, compared to lions which eat seventy percent, and were also shown not to ingest dung, to the point that they would only eat intestines after shaking out the waste inside.

Two male Dimetrodon are featured fighting in Dinosaur Zoo released on the iPad.

In Peter Jackson's book, The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island, a large, omnivorous descendant of Dimetrodon dwells in the uplands and is called Malevolusaurus perditor.

 

 

Interesting Facts

It was a so-called mammal-like reptile, an ancestor of the mammals.

Often considered a dinosaur, Dimetrodon was actually one of the pelycosaurs and predated the earliest dinosaurs by tens of millions of year

Its popularity comes from the massive sail that is carried erect on its back

Aside from the potential advantage of controlled thermoregulation, Dimetrodon had two different kinds of teeth, hence the reason for its name. These teeth consisted of teeth designed for grabbing its prey, and teeth designed for shearing flesh.

Dimetrodon walked on four legs that sprawled out to the sides (unlike the dinosaurs, whose legs extended under their bodies). It was probably a very fast runner.

 

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Sources:

http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/d/dimetrodon.html
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/dinosaurs/dinos/Dimetrodon.shtml
http://en.academic.ru/pictures/enwiki/68/Dimetrodon_pair.jpg
http://www.commons.wikimedia.org
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