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An illustration of two Pristerognathus

Therocephalia ("beast-head") is a suborder of carnivorous therapsids from the Permian and Triassic periods.

DescriptionEdit

Therocephalians had broad jaw muscles and reduced phalanges much like modern mammals. Most examples were likely endothermic and carnivorous, though some genera may have been herbivores instead.[1]

It is possible that some therocephalians may have been at least partially aquatic.[2]

ClassificationEdit

Therocephalia is the sister group to Cynodontia, which includes all modern mammals. Both groups survived the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, but the therocephalians only persisted for a short time into the Triassic, while the cynodonts continued to diversify.[3]

Below is a cladogram modified from a paper published by Adam K. Huttenlocker in 2014, showing the position of Therocephalia within the therapsids.[4]

Therapsida 

Biarmosuchus tener




Titanophoneus potens




Gorgonopsia




Anomodontia


 Eutheriodontia 
 Cynodontia 

Charassognathus gracilis




Dvinia prima




Procynosuchus delaharpeae



Epicynodontia →





 Therocephalia 

Lycosuchus vanderrieti


 Scylacosauria 
 Scylacosauridae 

Ictidosaurus angusticeps



Scylacosaurus sclateri




Alopecodon priscus



Pardosuchus whaitsi





Glanosuchus macrops



Pristerognathus polyodon




 Eutherocephalia 

Scylacosuchus orenburgensis




Perplexisaurus foveatus


 Chthonosauridae 

Chthonosaurus velocidens



NHCC LB36, 38 (Unnamed Zambian chthonosaurid)



 Akidnognathidae 

Annatherapsidus petri




USNM PAL412421 (from Cistecephalus AZ]])




Akidnognathus parvus





Promoschorhynchus platyrhinus



Olivierosuchus parringtoni





Euchambersia mirabilis




Cerdops burgheri



Moschorhinus kitchingi










 Hofmeyriidae 

SAM-PK-K8516 (from Cistecephalus AZ]])




Hofmeyria atavus




Ictidostoma hemburyi



Mirotenthes digitipes





 Whaitsiidae 

SAM-PK-K10990, K10984 (from Tropidostoma AZ)



Ictidochampsa platyceps




Viatkosuchus sumini




Moschowhaitsia vjuschkovi



Theriognathus microps






 Baurioidea 

Ictidosuchops rubidgei


 Ictidosuchidae 

Ictidosuchus primaevus



Ictidosuchoides longiceps




 Regisauridae 

Regisaurus jacobi



Urumchia lii





 Karenitidae 

NHCC LB44 (Unnamed Zambian karenitid)



Karenites ornamentatus



 Lycideopidae 

Lycideops longiceps




Choerosaurus dejageri




Tetracynodon tenuis



Tetracynodon darti








Scaloposaurus constrictus



 Ericiolacertidae 

Ericiolacerta parva



Silphedosuchus orenburgensis





Nothogomphodon danilovi


 "Ordosiidae" 

Hazhenia concava



Ordosiodon youngi



 Bauriidae 

Bauria cynops




Antecosuchus ochevi



Microgomphodon oligocynus



Traversodontoides wangwuensis




















In popular cultureEdit

A group of unspecified therocephalians appeared in the third episode of the 2005 BBC documentary Walking with Monsters, stalking a herd of Lystrosaurus. In this series, they are depicted as being venomous. Although this feature was speculation, some therocephalian fossils show that such an ability may have been possible for certain species.

Venomous therocephalians also appeared in an episode of the ITV science fiction series Primeval.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ivakhnenko, M.F. (2011). "Permian and Triassic therocephals (Eutherapsida) of Eastern Europe". Paleontological Journal 45 (9): 981–1144. doi:10.1134/S0031030111090012.
  2. Tatarinov, L.P. (1994). "On the preservation of rudimentary rostral tubular complex of crossopterygians in theriodonts and on possible development of the electroreceptor systems in some members of this group". Doklady Akademii Nauk 338 (2): 278–281.
  3. Huttenlocker, A.K.; Sidor, C.A.; and Smith, R.M.H. (2011). "A new specimen of Promoschorhynchus (Therapsida: Therocephalia: Akidnognathidae) from the Lower Triassic of South Africa and its implications for theriodont survivorship across the Permo-Triassic boundary". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31 (2): 405–421. doi:10.1080/02724634.2011.546720.
  4. Huttenlocker, A. K. (2014). "Body Size Reductions in Nonmammalian Eutheriodont Therapsids (Synapsida) during the End-Permian Mass Extinction". PLoS ONE 9 (2): e87553. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087553.

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