Often thought to be a Dinosaur, Dimetrodon, a Pelycosaur (“sail reptile”), is actually more closely related to Mammals. Moreover, this sail-backed Reptile lived thirty millions years before the Dinosaurs. In fact, She was the first apex predator of the land (arising during the Permian Period (about 280 to 260 million years ago)). Not only that, Dimetrodon gave the first evidence of ecosystems forming on the land.
Dimetrodon first became confused with dinosaurs when the noted Dinosaur “hunter” Edward Drinker Cope identified Her in 1878. Moreover, Spinosauraus of the Cretaceous Period, who was a Dinosaur, also had a sail as well. The major difference between Dimetrodon and Dinosaurs is the placement of the legs. Dinosaurs have legs which are upright underneath Them, whilst Dimetrodon had legs at her sides, much like a Crocodile. (However, Dimetrodon was the fastest land Animal of her day.)
Found in North America and Europe, Dimetrodon was the top predator of her time. Moreover, She was named for her remarkable teeth of that time (“dimetrodon” means “two-sized teeth). Dimetrodon had canine fangs for stabbing and biting, and shearing teeth for cutting and grinding muscle. For food, She feasted on Amphibians, Sharks, and other Reptiles.
What Dimetrodon is well-known for is her distinctive sail. Covering the tall spines rising from her backbone, this skin sail had blood vessels. In the morning, the sail would warm Her as She sat in the sun, and then at night, it would cool Her off. Many scientists think that her sail was for temperature control, which gave Dimetrodon an advantage over other animals, who had to spend a longer time in the sun. (Some scientists also think that the sail was used for sex selection. The bigger the sail, the more desirable was the mate.)
However as the continents merged into one supercontinent, the climate on the earth became hotter and drier. Her relative, Casea, who came after Dimetrodon, had no sail. By this time, having a sail was a liability. Moreover, since the swampy places were drying up, Dimetrodon had no place to live and became extinct.
Often a victim of mistaken identity and usually confused with Dinosaurs, Dimetrodon does not get the recognition that She deserves. Dimetrodon had “advanced teeth”, an ability to control her body temperature, and was a distant Ancestor of Mammals. This Pelycosaur should be recognized for the unique being that She is: the world’s first apex predator of the land.
What we can learn from Dimetrodon is that sometimes we become overlooked or mistaken for something else. We need to speak up for ourselves and correct the mistake. Furthermore, we can also speak up for those like Dimetrodon who have no voice. When you feel overlooked, ask Dimetrodon for counsel. She can show you how to be recognized for your own deeds. After all She was the early ruler of the Permian period.