STL Science Center

STL Science Center

11 September 2015

Tribulations of An Aerodynamic Head

©Dmitry Bogdanov
The salamander-like body of the genus Diplocaulus (with two accepted species: D. salamandroides Cope, 1877(type) and D. magnicornis Cope, 1882)
was meant for walking about on the bottom of the aquatic landscapes that the lepospondyl amphibians in the Order Nectridea called home. Their heads, however, were built in a very interesting manner. They were, quite obviously, the most interesting things about these Permian animals of North America. Many hypotheses have been formulated about the way that Diplocaulus swam, ate, and foraged or hunted in the rivers, lakes, and swamps that they inhabited. Habitats of Diplocaulus have been narrowed down mainly to these simplified definitions of freshwater systems. Regardless of these definitions, as the largest known lepospondyl it was restricted to the deepest and widest of these freshwater habitats. Supposed remains from Morocco have made this enormous salamander an intercontinental, in the modern global view, fossil that may be able to provide further evidence of continental drift. That is, of course, if those supposed remains belong to the genus Diplocaulus or one of the known and accepted species.

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