Scutosaurus

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Scutosaurus
Temporal range: Lopingian, 254–252 Ma
Scutosaurus.jpg
Skeleton, American Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Parareptilia
Order: Procolophonomorpha
Clade: Pareiasauria
Clade: Velosauria
Clade: Therischia
Genus: Scutosaurus
Hartmann-Weinberg, 1930
Species: † S. karpinskii
Binomial name
Scutosaurus karpinskii
(Amalitzky, 1922)
Synonyms
  • Pareiasuchus elegans Amalitzky, 1922
  • Pareiasuchus horridus Amalitzky, 1922
  • Pareiasuchus tuberculatus Amalitzky, 1922
  • Pareiasaurus karpinskii Amalitzky, 1922
  • Proelginia permiana? Hartmann-Weinberg, 1937
  • Scutosaurus itilensis Ivachneko & Lebedev, 1987

Scutosaurus ("Shield Lizard") was a genus of armor-covered pareiasaur that lived around 254-252 million years ago in Russia, in the later Permian period. Its genus name refers to large plates of armor scattered across its body. It was a large anapsid reptile that, unlike most reptiles, held its legs underneath its body to support its great weight.[1]

Palaeobiology[edit]

Restoration
Skull of S. karpinskii
Scutosaurus being attacked by Inostrancevia

Scutosaurus was a massively built reptile, up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) in length, with bony armor, and a number of spikes decorating its skull.[1] Despite its relatively small size, Scutosaurus was heavy, and its short legs meant that it could not move at speed for long periods of time, which made it vulnerable to attack by large predators. To defend itself Scutosaurus had a thick skeleton covered with powerful muscles, especially in the neck region. Underneath the skin were rows of hard, bony plates (scutes) that acted like a form of chain mail.

As a plant-eater living in a semi-arid climate, Scutosaurus would have wandered widely in order to find fresh foliage to eat. It may have stuck closely to the riverbanks and floodplains where plant life would have been more abundant, straying further afield only during times of drought. Its teeth were flattened and could grind away at the leaves and young branches before digesting them at length in its large gut. Given that it needed to eat constantly, Scutosaurus probably lived alone, or in very small herds, so as to avoid denuding large areas of their edible plants.

Skull[edit]

The skull is about 50 cm wide.It is very broad, flat, and strongly sculptured, and bears bony protuberances in the jugal (cheek) and rear regions. As with some species of Pareiasaurus, with which it is clearly related, the quadrato-jugal or cheekbones extend outwards and forwards, makings an angle of about 120° with the maxillary border. With its large cheekbones, Scutosaurus may have been able to make a loud bellowing sound.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 64. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 

External links[edit]