Most people are familiar with the carnivorous T-Rex and the spiky Stegosaurus, however, a recent discovery from Canadian scientists leaves them surprised.
Over 170 years ago part of an upper jaw and several sharp teeth of a ‘Dimetrodon’ were found by a farmer who was digging out a well on his property near French River, P.E.I.
In a recent study that was released earlier this week, Canadian researchers revealed that the fossil, previously branded a Bathygnathus borealis, has been renamed Dimetrodon borealis.
Dimetrodons were mammal-like reptiles that walked on all four legs and were known primarily for their large “sails”. Theses sails raced along their spines.
The creatures were top predators in the early Premian era, between 295 and 272 million years ago, and went extinct about 40 million years before the first dinosaurs.
Part of the problem was that it was unclear whether the find had the Dimetrodon’s signature dorsal sail. However, researchers were finally able to make the match through CT scans, which allowed them to see the internal anatomy of the fossil, and a close examination of family trees.
Biology professor for the University of Toronto, Robert Reisz says that this is an exciting time for Canadian paleontologists, “Dimetrodon means ‘Deep Jaw’. It is historically important because essentially it is only the second fossil found in Canada.”
“This particular species made its first appearance before the first dinosaurs and even older than that,” adds Reisz.
“We are looking at a much older stage in vertebrate evolution. We’re looking at a time 50 to 70-million years.”
He also notes that this particular species is not an actual dinosaur, “T-Rex and other dinosaurs have two openings in the skull and mammals only have one opening and Dimetrodons fall into the mammal category.”
Dimetrodon fossils have also been found in the southwestern United States and Germany. The findings were published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.