|Life restoration of Trirachodon berryi in a burrow|
Trirachodontidae is an extinct family of cynognathian cynodonts from the Triassic of China and southern Africa. Trirachodontids appeared during the Early Triassic soon after the Permian-Triassic extinction event and quickly spread over a wide geographic area in a comparatively brief amount of time from 250 to 237 million years ago.
Trirachodontids have wide skulls and short, narrow snouts. Two large holes called temporal fenestrae run along the back of the head and have a uniformly large width. Trirachodontids also have two large canine teeth and smaller cusped postcanines. Most of the features that distinguish trirachodonts from other cynodonts are found in their dentition.
Trirachodontids lived in semi-arid environments with seasonal rainfall. The bone structure of trirachodontids suggests that they grew quickly in seasons with high rainfall and slowly in less favorable seasons. One trirachodontid, Trirachodon, has been found in association with complex burrow systems. These burrows were probably used by many individuals to hide from predators, raise young, or stay warm.
Two subfamilies of trirachodontids are recognized: Trirachodontinae from Africa and Sinognathinae from China. Below is a cladogram from Gao et al. (2010) showing the phylogenetic relationships of trirachodontids:
- Gao, K.-Q.; Fox, R.C.; Zhou, C.-F.; Li, D.-Q. (2010). "A new nonmammalian eucynodont (Synapsida: Therapsida) from the Triassic of Northern Gansu Province, China, and its biostratigraphic and biogeographic implications". American Museum Novitates. 3685: 1–25. doi:10.1206/649.1.
- Botha, J.; Chinsamy, A. (2004). "Growth and life habits of the Triassic cynodont Trirachodon, inferred from bone histology" (PDF). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 49 (9): 619–627.
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