Facts about Dimetrodon, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Dimetrodon



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Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Synapsida
  Order Pelycosauria
  Suborder Eupelycosauria
  Family Sphenaocodontidae
  Genus Dimetrodon
Dimetrodon is probably the best-known of the mammal-like reptiles. It was a predator that lived in the Permian period between about 280 million and 265 million years ago.

Dimetrodon is believed to have been the largest predator in its habitat. Adults were up to 11 feet (3.5 meters) in length. It had four sprawling legs, and a large tail, and probably walked in a similar manner to lizards. It most noteable feature however is the large sail on its back.

Dimetrodon's sail was filled with blood vessels and is believed to have mainly served to help in regulating body temperature. By facing the sail towards the sun, Dimetrodon could heat itself up quickly, and it could also use the sail to cool itself if it became too hot. Additionally, the sail may have served a number of secondary purposes such as attracting mates, or helping to deter other predators (by making the animal appear larger than it was).

The name Dimetrodon means "two measures of teeth", and was chosen in 1878 by Edward D. Cope. This name reflects the fact that the animal's skull contains two different types of teeth (unlike reptiles which normally only contain a single type of teeth) - namely sharp canine teeth, and shearing teeth.

Fossils of Dimetrodon have so been found in North America and Europe. As well as fossils of the animal itself, fossilized Dimetrodon footprints have also been found.

Dimetrodon Timeline:

Dimetrodon was a carnivorous (meat-eating) mammal-like reptile that lived between 280 and 265 million years ago

Dimetrodon was a carnivorous (meat-eating) mammal-like reptile that lived between 280 and 265 million years ago

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