STL Science Center

STL Science Center

13 May 2011

Now Friday's: Eryops

Copyright 2011 Alain Beneteau

The focus of this week is Eryops, an Early Permian amphibian. Combining the best of what its fish ancestors and the amphibian evolutionary ladder created in it, Eryops megacephalus was a successful coastal hunter on inland waterways. It had primitive ears for airborne sound formed from now unused portions of the ancestral fish jawbone (which helps to explain how our ears got connected to our mouths in the first place) and sturdy, but stubby, legs and a strong backbone to support its weight out of water. Its full name means "drawn out face big head" in Greek so a lot of focus is on that big flat head.That big flat head contained small teeth designed for snatch up and chomping down on fish and other riverbank cuisine. This was the main amphibious predator of its day. It probably only fell prey to rather large fish and sharks in the water and to Dimetrodon on land. This will be an interesting change from dinosaurs and synapsids!

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