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Temporal range: Upper Carboniferous to Lower Permian, 300–280 mya
Edaphosaurus at AMNH
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Synapsida
Order: Pelycosauria
Family: Edaphosauridae
Genus: Edaphosaurus
Cope, 1882
Skull of Edaphosaurus from the side and top

Edaphosaurus was a pelycosaur (early Synapsida) that lived during the later Carboniferous and early Permian. It was a herbivorous relative of the well-known Dimetrodon. Both had a large, thermal regulating sail on the back. Fossils of Edaphosaurus have been found in Europe and North America.

Edaphosaurus species measured from 0.5 metres (1.6 ft) to almost 3.5 metres (11.5 ft) in length and weighed over 300 kilograms (660 lb).[1] It was slightly taller and stockier than Dimetrodon, but like its pelycosaur relatives had a small head and a long tail.

Skull[change | change source]

The head of Edaphosaurus was rather small for its body size. The deep lower jaw likely had powerful muscles and the teeth along the front and sides of its jaws could crop bite-sized pieces from tough plants.

The roof of the mouth and the inside of the lower jaw had batteries of peglike teeth. They were a crushing and grinding surface. Early descriptions suggested that Edaphosaurus fed on molluscs, which it crushed with its teeth plates. However, paleontologists now think that Edaphosaurus ate plants. Lack of wear on the teeth suggests "limited processing of food".[2] Earlier members of the Edaphosauridae lacked tooth plates, and ate insects.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Edaphosaurus". http://palaeos.com/vertebrates/synapsida/edaphosauridae2.html#Edaphosaurus. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  2. Reisz R.R. 2006.. "Origin of dental occlusion in tetrapods: signal for terrestrial vertebrate evolution?". Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B 306B: 261–277. doi:10.1002/jez.b.21115 .