Lycaenops

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Lycaenops
Temporal range: Middle - Late Permian 270.6–251 Ma
Lycaenops ornatus Buffalo Museum of Science.jpg
L. ornatus skeleton, Buffalo Museum of Science
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Therapsida
Family: Gorgonopsidae
Genus: Lycaenops
Broom, 1925
Type species
Lycaenops ornatus
Broom, 1925
Species
  • L. ornatus Broom, 1925
  • L. angusticeps Broom, 1913
  • L. microdon Boonstra, 1934
  • L. sollasi Broili and Schröder, 1935
Synonyms
  • Lycaenoides
    Broom, 1925
  • Aelurognathus microdon
    Boonstra, 1934
  • Aelurognathus sollasi
    Broili and Schröder, 1935
  • Scymnognathus angusticeps
    Broom, 1913

Lycaenops ("Wolf-Face") is a genus of carnivorous therapsid. It lived during the late mid-Permian to the early Late Permian, about 270.6-251 mya, in what is now South Africa.

Description[edit]

Reconstruction of L. ornatus
Life restoration with dicynodont prey and speculative hair

Lycaenops measured about 1 m (3 ft) and weighed up to 15 kg (33 lb).[1] Like the modern-day wolves from which it takes its name, Lycaenops had a long and slender skull, with a set of dog-like fangs set into both its upper and lower jaws.[2] These pointed canine teeth were ideal for the use of stabbing and/or tearing at the flesh of any large prey that it came upon. Lycaenops most likely hunted small vertebrates such as reptiles and dicynodonts.

Lycaenops walked and ran with its long legs held close to its body. This is a feature found in mammals, but not in more primitive amniotes, early reptiles, and synapsids such as pelycosaurs, whose legs are positioned to the sides of their bodies. The ability to move like a mammal would have given Lycaenops an advantage over other land vertebrates, since it would have been able to outrun them.

Species[edit]

A Lycaenops skeleton in the Milan Natural History Museum

The type species Lycaenops ornatus was named by South African paleontologist Robert Broom in 1925. Several other species have also been referred to the genus, including L. angusticeps, which was originally named Scymnognathus angusticeps, L. kingwilli, which was originally named Tigricephalus kingwilli and is now placed in the genus Aelurognathus, and L. tenuirostris, which was originally named Tangagorgon tenuirostris and is now in the genus Cyonosaurus. Two additional species, L. microdon and L. sollasi, were added to Lycaenops after having been classified as species of Aelurognathus. The species L. minor is now considered a synonym of L. sollasi.[3]

Classification[edit]

Skull of L. cf. angusticeps at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

Below is a cladogram from the phylogenetic analysis of Gebauer (2007):[3]

Gorgonopsia 

Aloposaurus




Cyonosaurus




Aelurosaurus


Gorgonopsidae

Scylacognathus




Eoarctops



Gorgonops




Njalila




Lycaenops




Arctognathus




Inostrancevia


Rubidgeinae

Aelurognathus




Rubidgea




Sycosaurus



Clelandina














See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gorgonopsia
  2. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 189. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  3. ^ a b Gebauer, E.V.I. (2007). Phylogeny and evolution of the Gorgonopsia with a special reference to the skull and skeleton of GPIT/RE/7113 ('Aelurognathus?' parringtoni) (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). Tübingen: Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen. pp. 1–316.