STL Science Center

STL Science Center

28 May 2011

Diictodon the Digger

Diictodon as a genera possesses seven species with D. feliceps being the type species. This leads to a wide variety of interpretations of the many different species despite their similar skeletal structures. That's not to say that the differences are not warranted, as the skeletal structures which create the need for different species to be named are obviously large enough to require more than one species. Over all, as in other animals with multiple species in their genus, most of the models and interpretations look very similar.

The general body shape is that of a slender and elongated trunk and abdomen, a short neck, a very short tail, a beak-like premaxilla and mandible/dentary, with two small tusks arranged on either side of the jaw pointing downward. Somewhat binocular vision was likely with the eyes facing mostly forward but sunken into the skull enough that a small ridge of bone forms the rear (the post occipital bone) of the ocular cavity of the canine like skull. Rounding out this design are small legs held under the body, mammal-like, in back and gently splayed, lizard fashion, in front that end in five fingered feet both fore and aft which don't automatically look, but are perceived to have been, excellent at digging.
As for that, Diictodon have been found fossilized in collapsed burrow structures leading paleontologists to surmise that the dachshund size creatures were at home underground away from the giant mouths of animals like the gorgonopsids that prowled the earth topside. Their large eyes could certainly have been very useful in the darkness
underground to catch what light filtered through their tunnel entrances and their eyes also tell us there was more of meerkat than mole about their way of life; they must have also come out on the surface quite regularly and utilized those big baby blues or surely evolution would have created more of a mole-like situation for the Diictodons with small eyes and high sensation feelers.

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