I’m enjoying writing about dinosaurs so much that I decided to toss a bonus article into this weeks writing schedule. This post will be about genus Dimetrodon. There are at least fifteen species described in this genus, but for the sake of clarity, I will cover the genus as a whole in this article.
Probably the first thing to point out when it comes to the evolutionary ideology surrounding Dimetrodon is that it is not considered a dinosaur. According to evolutionary thought, the Dimetrodon genus evolved in the Permian period, approximately 50 million years before dinosaurs appeared. Instead of being classified as a dinosaur, evolutionists classify Dimetrodon as a pelycosaur. What’s a pelycosaur you ask? I actually didn’t know either so I looked it up. Basically, it translates as a primitive synapsid. “Primitive synapsid” translates into layman’s terminology as early mammals and mammal-like reptiles. Dimetrodon is considered ancestral to modern mammals, rather than dinosaurs themselves. This is due to certain features in the skull, including an extra opening behind the eye socket called the temporal fenestrae. Evolutionists view Dimetrodon as the apex predator of its time, the animal all other animals feared to encounter. However, due to certain features which I will discuss in a moment, I consider Dimetrodon to be a reptile at least and shall refer to it as such throughout this article.
Creationist ideology has a different placement for Dimetrodon. Of course, we don’t subscribe to it being ancestral to modern mammals and there is some evidence to back our position. First of all is the sprawling gait. To my knowledge, no known mammal has the sprawling, stomach dragging gait of Dimetrodon and modern lizards such as Komodo dragons. Second is the massive sail positioned on the back. No mammal requires such a feature, as mammals are warm-blooded. Certainly, there are some skull features which point to similarity, but that merely points to a common Designer, not a common ancestor.
Dimetrodon takes its name from its teeth, rather than its trademark sail. Their name literally means “two measures of teeth”. They had some teeth sharp and serrated, others more sturdy and meant for holding and tearing. Evolutionists point to the serrated teeth and immediately assume carnivore. However, fruit bats have sharp serrated teeth as well and they are herbivores. In the Garden of Eden, Dimetrodon would have been a slow-moving lawn mower. The front grasping teeth are ideal for ripping piles of leaves right off branches of low shrubs. The tiny teeth in the front of the jaw would have helped stabilize large mouthfuls. The shredding serrated teeth would have been ideal for any fruit that fell from the numerous trees in the Garden. Of course, post-fall, the teeth would have been re-purposed to the carnivorous purpose that the evolutionists presume.
The most recognizable feature of Dimetrodon is the sail its back. Evolutionists assume, probably correctly, that the sail was used to help heat the Dimetrodon up in the morning, to allow it’s cold blood to circulate and help it move. There is some speculation that Dimetrodon was designed to pump blood into its sail to speed this process. If true, this feature would have significantly increased the speed at which Dimetrodon would have been able to heat itself. According to calculations done by scientists, a full-sized Dimetrodon could take over an hour to warm itself enough to move. Though often drawn as in the image above, it is likely that the spines in the sail protruded several inches beyond the soft tissue sail itself. This would have provided a slight measure of protection post fall against any lone predator. However, Dimetrodon would have been easy prey for a pack of Velociraptors. Some scientists speculate that the sail may also have functioned in reproduction, as a means to attract a mate. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that males with larger sails would be preferred over males with smaller sails. However, that is pure speculation and cannot be verified.
Dimetrodons are among the few known dinosaurs to be sexually dimorphic. Essentially what that means is that there is an external way to differentiate the genders. In the case of Dimetrodon, the method of distinction is the size. Because so many Dimetrodon fossils have been found, scientists have been able to determine that males were distinctly larger than females.
Based on data acquired from dig sites, Dimetrodon is believed to have been a swamp-dwelling organism. Its skeletal structure suggests that, like the Komodo Dragon and Crocodiles, which have similar gaits, it would have been surprisingly quick for its size. Post fall, this speed would have been used to run down rodents and smaller lizards, or, escape the more lumbering attacks of larger predators such as Allosaurus. In the Garden of Eden, the speed would have been of use in being the first to a downed pear or apple, as Dimetrodon‘s stumpy legs would have never permitted it to reach such a tasty morsel.
Edit: Yes I am aware Dimetrodon is not classified as a dinosaur. However, it is viewed as one in the popular culture which is why I have included it in the Dinosaur Profile Series.