Therapsids of the Late Permian  —  the Ancestors of Mammals


right — Viatkogorgon ivachnenkoi
"... in the lusty stealth of nature ..."

A gorgonopsian hunter lies in wait. Until its prey strays within lunging distance, Viatkogorgon can afford to remain concealed. Once those killing canines are brought to bear, no victim will escape the gorgonopsid's jaws.

Like other Permian therapsids, gorgonopsids had neither scales nor fur to protect them.  Instead, sebaceous glands exuded oils which helped protect their skin while keeping it supple.  It has been suggested that these oil glands might, at times, have produced a strong scent to mark territory or attract mates.  Life in the Permian might have been smelly!

But, the gorgonopsian snout was well equipped to snuffle out mates or prey. Its  nasal cavity was divided  into two chambers. The olfactory chamber was the larger of the two. It was lined with cartilaginous turbinals increasing the olfactory epithelium's surface area to intensify the animal's sense of smell.

left —  "Noses must be of some shape or other."  Leontocephalus intactus

A hungry gorgonopsid follows a fresh scent-trail. The tell-tale tracks which cover the muddy ravine floor confirm what her nose has already told her. A small dicynodont has passed  this way not  long ago.  The abundant spring growth of  Glossopteris and  fern fronds fattens up the herbivores.  But this profusion of  foliage also provides gorgonopsids' prey with plenty of cover.

Back to the
Gorgon's Bite

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