Ulemosaurus svijagensis -Rjabinin, 1938- skull
Therapsida: Dinocephalia: Tapinocephalidae
Locality: Isheevo, Tatarstan, eastern European Russia
Age: Late Permian, 255 million years ago
Meaning of name: "Reptile from the Ulema River"
The herbivorous dinocephalian Ulemosaurus was obviously similar in its appearance
and style of life with Estemmenosuchus, but differs from the latter, in particular,
by the more specialized tooth apparatus.
Both Ulemosaurus and Estemmenosuchus, unlike mammals, could not chew food because
of the lack of bony palate, separating the respiratory ducts from the mouth cavity.
Ulemosaurus was prey to the huge sabre-toothed dinocephalian Titanophoneus,
that could steal up easily to such a relatively ponderous and constantly grazing prey.
Represented above is a skull. Several skulls and skeletons of this species were
recovered from sandstones that appear to represent high energy flood deposits.
The bone in the skull of this animal was extremely dense.
Like Estemmenosuchus, this reptile would seem to have been a herbivore.
However, in both cases it has been suggested by some researchers that these animals
were carnivores, biting their prey by rapidly slamming the lower jaw shut
against the upper, the teeth acting as blades.
With the heavy construction of the lower jaw, there would probably have
been enough momentum to cut flesh in this manner.
Palaeontologists who regard them as vegetarians point out that their
small side teeth and their front teeth were evidently adapted for gripping vegetation.
These scientists suggest that very little food processing went on in the mouth,
but that most took place in the stomach and intestines.
The teeth were mainly just for gathering the food. Ulemosaurus was a gigantic animal
with a very thick frontal bone that sometimes reached 10 cm in thickness.
Some paleontologists think that this was a specialization for head butting behaviour.