Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dimetrodon: NOT a dinosaur

Despite constantly being lumped in with T. rex and stegosaurus in the world of plastic dinosaurs - Dimetrodon was actually the top pre-dinosaur predator. Actually, it was the only predator around before the dinosaurs showed up - the first king of the food chain, and the first evidence we have of the formation of a land ecosystem.

This species ruled in the Permian Period – the time just before dinosaurs showed up that ended with history’s most massive known extinction. Discoveries from this period help answer the question “Where did dinosaurs come from?”

Dimetrodon were 7 to 14 feet long, weighed up to 600 pounds and had 4-foot tall fins on their backs. According to Dr. Bakker, you would not want to meet one in a dark alley – “If they were alive, they would look upon you as a food item.”





(c) Robert T. Bakker



Fearsome they may be, but few extinct species are as important than Dimetrodon – its existence represents a key step in earth history. Dimetrodon dominated its world, the largest meat-eater that had ever evolved up to the time. It was strong enough to kill any other land animal.

When Dimetrodon ruled, lizards hadn’t evolved yet, nor turtles, nor snakes. There weren’t any crocodiles, gators, frogs, salamanders, or even flowers. The only plants around were ferns, horsetails or other primitive conifer with dull green leaves.

Dimetrodon femur found by the team in Seymour, TX. Additional objects present for scale.


In fact, it's so old that Dimetrodon has a special spot in human evolution. The Texas Finback is located very close to the base of the mammalian family tree that includes all ‘possums, dogs, and cats, monkeys, apes and humans. So…you can put a portrait of the Texas Finback up on the mantel, next to Grandma and Grandpa.


This plaster jacket covers and protects an associated Dimetrodon skeleton found by the team in Seymour, TX. It has since been removed from the site and taken to the Museum for study.

8 comments:

David'Dimetrodon said...

Hello there,

I was thinking did Dimetrodons(the big ones)were top predators in Europe too cause I heard that in Europe there were only somekind of small Dimetrodon species?

Nima said...

Hey, it's cool somebody pointed this out despite all the wrong information in kids' coloring books and toys... the only reason Dimetrodon gets called a dinosaur is because the pop-culture 'dinosaur industry' thinks the dorsal sail is a good marketing tool (which is may also have been for a Dimetrodon of the opposite sex!)

But Dimetrodon was not the "only" predator around before dinosaurs came... let's not forget there was also Sphenacodon, and Varanops and many others... not to mention the late Permian therapsids... families of hunters like the Anteosaurs and Gorgonopsians... And also the Crurotarsans (land-living crocodile relatives)... these were all predators that were there before dinosaurs.

CapperPell said...

OK - what's going on with that short tail on Dimetrodon? The other drawings of specimens all have long tails. Did you guys find the first evidence that Dimetrodon actually had a short tail?

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I think that this creature is a dinosaur. The arguments that deny that doesn't convince my opinion. Thanks for sharing this interesting piece of news.

Anonymous said...

IT IS NOT A DINOSAUR because for one, they weren't even around when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, they came before, dinosaurs are archosaurian land reptiles that walked with limbs ERECT, BENEATH their bodies, not to the side like the Dimetrodon.

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