Prehistoric Animals: Estemmenosuchus!

Estemmenosuchus Feb 19 2015

In case you’re stuck, here’s the pronunciation: Es-tim-men-oh-SUE-kus.

Ah, yes. Beautiful, odd, bizarre Estemmenosuchus, the “wreathed with a crown crocodile”. The horns of Estemmenosuchus grow upwards from the frontal skull bones and seem to have primarily been spectacular display devices, especially if the horns and protuberances were adorned with bright colors in life.

Despite the meaning of its name, it was far from crocodilian; in truth is was a therapsid, which was the family of reptiles that produced the earliest mammals.  As with other large therapsids, experts aren’t quite sure what Estemmnosuchus ate. Its sharp canines and incisors point Estemmenosuchus toward being a carnivore.‭ ‬However, many of the herbivorous therapsids still had carnivore like teeth as they evolved,‭ ‬and the large, bulky body suggest that it was shaped to  hold a large digestive system(plants take longer to digest than meat and therefore herbivores need a bigger, rounder body to accommodate the appropriate digestive system).‭The safest bet is that it was an opportunistic omnivore.

As it was in the evolutionary branch that was moving toward mammals, some scientists think it even had a thin coat of hair.

Sticky Notes: The Esophagus Man.

The Esophagus Man, Copyright 2013 Liz Vitale
The Esophagus Man, Copyright 2013 Liz Vitale

Actually,The Esophagus Man and I go way back, to my high school days. I was on our school’s newspaper staff and produced some of the cartoons and illustrations with my pal Alex. In our official newspaper cartoon, entitled “Sir Charles and Nogard”, which was about a space-traveling knight and his dragon friend(I really should revisit that), The Esophagus Man was not exactly an adversary, but definitely an aggressive force of nature that would disrupt whatever scene he was in. He would run through a panel, jabbering his strange language that sounded something like “Ableah! Bluhbluhbluhbleah ableah bleah!” and totally mess everything up. I miss him. Continue reading