Dimetrodon’s Steak Knife Teeth May Have Helped with Eating Larger Prey
Dimetrodon is the world’s oldest known terrestrial predator. It lived in the Early Permian era, around 295 to 272 million years ago.
New research shows that Dimetrodon had serrated ‘steak knife’ teeth. These serrated teeth enabled Dimetrodon to feed on prey that was larger than itself. “The steak-knife configuration of these teeth and the architecture of the skull suggest Dimetrodon was able to grab and rip and dismember large prey,” states Robert Reisz, professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The teeth patterns were discovered using a scanning electron microscope.
Often mistaken for a dinosaur, in fact Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur. It lived long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Dimetrodon went extinct 40 million years before the first dinosaurs in the Triassic period existed.
The 13 foot long Dimetrodon’s most prominent feature was the sail that formed on its back due to spines extending from the vertebrae. It walked on four legs, and had a long curved skull. Dimetrodon is more closely related to mammals than any living reptiles, although it is “not a direct ancestor of any mammals.” Dimetrodon is also one of the first to have cusps, which are teeth with raised points.
The steak knife teeth are thought to be an evolved feature due to a change in diet. Although other fossils have been found to possess these serrated teeth, Dimetrodon was the first to have them.
“This research is an important step in reconstructing the structure of ancient complex communities. Teeth tell us a lot more about the ecology of animals than just looking at the skeleton,” states Robert Reisz.
Dimetrodon is thought to have preyed upon large fish, aquatic amphibians, and some land animals such as reptiles.
Dimetrodon’s Steak Knife Teeth May Have Helped with Eating Larger Prey.