Estemmenosuchus uralensis -Tchudinov, 1960- skeleton
Locality: Ocher, Perm Region, eastern European Russia
Age: Late Permian, 255 million years ago
Meaning of name: "Crowned crocodile"
The rigid stems of sphenophyt plants, giant relatives of the living horstails,
accumulated in the coastal parts of the well-heated brackish basins.
Partially-rotted sphenophyt remains with mushrooms, which sprouted on them,
became a soft nutritious heap. This heap could be eaten up by the huge
herbivorous eotheriodonts of the genus Estemmenosuchus.
They grasped soft forage with their long and strong front teeth and swallowed without
chewing, as their weak and thin lateral teeth only served to keep food in the mouth.
Represented is the skeleton of a large herbivore in the group Dinocephalia.
The skeleton was preserved in a channel flood deposit.
With large horns projecting both upwards and outwards and a sprawling
posture as well as reduced teeth behind the large canines, these massive,
clumsy-looking animals would seem almost certain to have been herbivores.
However, at least one expert on mammal-like reptiles asserts that Estemmenosuchus
was a carnivore, exerting great force at the tips of the chisel-like front teeth
when slicing the flesh and bones of its prey.
Estemmenosuchus may have been warm-blooded with an internal heat engine like
mammals. Another mechanism is what is called inertial
warm-bloodedness-maintenance of a high body temperature by controlling loss of heat.
This could be achieved by the build of this animal in that it was a large,
compact form with a low surface area to volume ratio-and so, little heat escaped.
At the moment scientists cannot resolve which theory is correct.