The Therapsids

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The Dinocephalia  —  Enter the 'Horrible Heads'
A grotesque appearance gave these therapsids their well-deserved name.  Most had tremendously thick skulls  —  perhaps for use in head-butting  jousts  —  some had strange horn-like knobs jutting from their skulls.  But, it was not  their  oddly-shaped heads which would allow these creatures to dominate the land.  Dinocephalians were the giants of  their world  —  much larger than their relatives, the 'dawn therapsids'.  Their's was a world of  'Eat and be Eaten'.

Often sheer size determined whether an animal was on the menu or not.  Like the pelycosaurs before them, some dinocephalians took advantage of  the food source provided by the abundant plant life surrounding them.  In their turn, these bulky plant-eaters provided an unresistable temptation to other large dinocephalians.

A pair of Estemmenosuchus mirabilis squabble over territory  —  top left
A peaceful watering spot is disturbed by the rumblings and threat displays of two rival bull Estemmenosuchus mirabilis ('crowned crocodile' - 1000kg). Oddest of the odd-looking dinocephalians, each Estemmenosuchus species looked slightly different,  all featuring bizarre projections and horn-covered knobs or bumps on their skulls.

In the background, the 'dawn therapsid' Phthinosuchus horissiaki cowers while a group of caseid pelycosaurs  —  the late-surviving Ennatosaurus tecton  —  abandon their watering hole.  The ennatosaurs seek the shelter of their forest home dominated by towering Walchia  (an early conifer very similar in appearance to the modern Norfolk Island 'Pine' or Araucaria).

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