Scutosaurus was a herbivore (plant-eater), and was equpped with flattened teeth and a large gut, for grinding and then digesting leaves and branches. As the the climate of its habitat was semi-arid, it probably would most have stayed near rivers and other sources of water, where plantlife was more abundant. It is thought that Scutosaurus probably lived alone, or perhaps in small herds.
Scutosaurus was about 11½ feet (3.5 meters) long, and very heavy. Although, unusually for a reptile, its legs were underneath its body (rather than the usual sprawling posture), Scutosaurus would have been a slow-moving creature. Its protection against predators would have been its thick skeleton, powerful muscles, and rows of bony armor plates that lay just beneath its skin.
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It has been argued that the group of reptiles to which Scutosaurus belongs, the Pareiasaurs, might have included the ancestors of turtles. One of the ideas behind this hypothesis is that Pareiasaurs' armor plates ("scutes") could have been the evolutonary precursor of a turtle's shell - however critics also note that there are important differences between these two structures. Moreover, although turtles have traditionally been regarded as the only surviving reminant of the anapsid reptiles (reptiles without a temporal opening in the skull), recent research has suggested that turtles may actually be descended from diapsids (reptiles with two temporal openings in the skulls) who subsequently reverted to the anapsid-style skull.
Scutosaurus were armored reptiles that 252 to 248 million years ago
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