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Not to be confused with Diplodocus.
Temporal range: 299–251Ma Early to Late Permian
Diplocaulus magnicornis Exhibit Museum of Natural History.JPG
Diplocaulus magnicornus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: "Amphibia" (wide sense)
Subclass: Lepospondyli
Order: Nectridea
Family: Diplocaulidae
Genus: Diplocaulus
Cope, 1877
  • D. salamandroides Cope, 1877(type)
  • D. magnicornis Cope, 1882
  •  ?D. brevirostris Olson, 1951
  •  ?D. recurvatus Olson, 1952
  •  ?D. minimus Dutuit, 1988


  • Permoplatyops Case, 1946


  • Diplocaulus limbatus Cope, 1895
  • Diplocaulus copei Broili, 1902
  • Diplocaulus pusillus Broili, 1904
  • Permoplatyops parvus (Williston, 1918 [originally Platyops parvus])
  • Diplocaulus parvus Olson, 1972

Diplocaulus (meaning "double caul") is an extinct genus of lepospondyl amphibian from the Permian period of North America. It is one of the largest lepospondyls, with a distinctive boomerang-shaped skull. Remains attributed to Diplocaulus have been found from the Late Permian of Morocco and represent the youngest known occurrence of a lepospondyl.


Diplocaulus had a stocky, salamander-like body, but was relatively large, reaching up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) in length. Its most distinctive features were the long protrusions on the sides of its skull, giving the head a boomerang shape.[1] Judging from its weak limbs and relatively short tail, it is presumed to have swum with an up-and-down movement of its body, not unlike cetaceans today. The wide head could have acted like a hydrofoil, helping the creature glide through the water. The University of Michigan's exhibit takes this concept on step further, adding a sheet of loose skin from the tips of the skull to the base of the tail which would have moved in an undulating wave for forward motion. Another possibility is that the shape was defensive, since even a large predator would have a hard time trying to swallow a creature with such a wide head.[2]

A close relative of Diplocaulus is Diploceraspis.

Diplocaulus on display[edit]



  1. ^ Cruickshank, A. R. I.; Skews, B. W. (1980). "The Functional Significance of Nectridean Tabular Horns (Amphibia: Lepospondyli)". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 209 (1177): 513. doi:10.1098/rspb.1980.0110.  edit
  2. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 55. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.