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Therapsida

ULEMOSAURUS
svijagensis


 
Meaning Of Name: Reptile from the Ulema River
Classification: THERAPSIDA; Dinocephalia' Family Tapinocephalidae
Age: Late Permian, Zone II, 250 million years ago
Locality: Isheevo, Tartarstan
Cast Size: 40cm in length

Partial skeleton of a large herbivorous reptile in the Dinocephalia. Several skulls and skeletons of this species were recovered from sandstones that appear to represent high-energy flood deposits.

The bone in the skull of this animal was extremely dense. Like Estemmenosuchus found in Zone I, this reptile would seem to have been a herbivore. However, in both cases it has been suggested by some researchers that these animals were carnivores, biting their prey by rapidly slamming the lower jaw shut against the upper, with the front teeth acting as blades. With the heavy construction of the lower jaw, there would probably have been enough momentum to cut flesh in this manner.

Palaeontologists who regard them as vegetarians point out that their small side teeth and their front teeth were evidently adapted for gripping vegetation. These scientists suggest that very little food processing went on in the mouth, but that most took place in the stomach and intestines. The teeth were mainly just for gathering the food.

Ulemosaurus was a gigantic animal with a very thick frontal bone that sometimes reached 10 cm in thickness. Some palaentologists think that this was a specialisation for head butting behaviour. This mammal-like reptile had a thickened bony dome on the top of its head.