The Therapsids

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Therocephalian and Gorgonopsid Hunters Spanning the Globe

Euchambersia (24cm skull) was one specialized therocephalian!  Other than snakes, very few living reptiles have poison glands  —  the best known being the Gila monster.  Male platypus feature a poison spur on each hindleg. Monotremes aside, among eutherian mammals there is only one animal with a poisonous bite  –  the tiny short-tailed shrew  (or Blarina brevicauda).

Modern snakes have hollow, syringe-like fangs. Euchambersia had a quite different method of injecting its venom. Grooves down the outer sides of the canine teeth delivered the deadly poison into the punture wound. A recess behind each canine tooth housed the poison gland.

Euchambersia's victim, in this case, is Oudenodon (15cm-30cm skull). The name Oudenodon means 'toothless' but these animals were tuskless as well (obviously needing neither to feed).

Dicynodonts usually stood with their nose pointed toward the ground (we know this because of the structure of their inner ears). But Oudenodon held its head straight forward –  probably so that they could feed on higher stems and fronds that other dicynodonts could not reach.

The large therocephalian hunters probably evolved in the north of Pangea, the single enormous Permian super-continent, before moving south.  Gorgonopsids moved in the opposite direction.

The largest ever gorgonopsids was Inostrancevia (after Russian geologist Alexander Inostrantzev -  40cm-48cm skull). When not being nasty to little Dicynodon, the Inostrancevias  most  likely went after big pareiasaurs, like the heavily armored Scutosaurus.

Dicynodon, namesake of the dicynodont group, was one of  the more common animals of its time.  These tubby, low-slung  'two tuskers' pread from Southern Africa all the way to Central Asia.

Dicynodon species differed slightly but Russian D. trautscholdi can be compared with the South African D. trigonocephalus.

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The Cynodonts
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