Once again, thank you to all my amazing friends. And to wrap things up, here are some final thoughts on our friend Dimetrodon: Dimetron was big, mean, probably didn't smell particularly good, and likely spent the majority of his time just laying around. Kind of like me ;-)
We are $135.00 away from our goal! I want to thank everyone who contributed and give you a little more info on the background of this project. I was a model maker at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and this is not my first lifesize sculpture. That would be the mounted head of an 18-foot Great White shark (photo attached). The Dimetrodon will be offered not only to museums and other interested institutions, but any collectors who may be interested as well. For a full album of the Dimetrodon project from start to where it is now, please go to https://m.facebook.com/lee.murphy.75?v=photos&cps&album=a.2159198260878.132633.1274160021&refid=17.
I've been a fan of Dimetrodon since I was a little kid and had the plastic toy mixed in that bag full of other prehistoric animals that never co-existed. But it was still fun. I was always fascinated by artists reproductions showing what Dimetrodon looked liked in life from Charles R. Knight, to Rudolph Zallinger and Zedenek Burian. It wasn't until 1990, when I was working at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History where I discovered one of the coolest things about Dimetrodon that I had never seen in any artistic recreations, or any of the scant literature on it. We had a fully articulated skeleton mounted in a wall case at the base of the big staircase going up from the first floor. One day I was looking it over and when I looked into the mouth I saw something that blew me away: Dimetrodon had THROAT TEETH! That's right. At the base of its throat it had an arch of bone studded with a row of sharp teeth which would allow it to snag and secure slippery prey such as fish and the amphibeans upon which it feasted regularly. When I finish my model the mouth will be opened wide and pointed upward at the viewer so everyone will be able to see this unique adaptation. Even T.rex couldn't boast about having throat teeth.
That pesky sail. Dimetrodon is known most notably for the large sail that adornes its back. But what purpose did it serve? No other (known) land animal-- living or extinct-- has had a sail similar to it. The sail was formed from long extensions of the spinal column no more than half an inch in diameter and covered (presumably) with what was likely a tough, fibrous skin. From an artistic view the sail is part of the creature's attraction, but in reality, it would seem the sail would have been a major hinderance. Some have speculated the sail was primarily for heat transferance which allowed Dimetrodon to heat up from the sun's rays earlier than other reptiles, thus giving it an advantage over its prey, or other competitors. The problem with that is blood vessels running through the sail would be highly vulnerable to damage, not to mention the spines themselves were probably regularly broken either in combat (attacking prey or battles against other males), or during copulation with a female similarly adorned. Others speculate the sail was merely for attraction, which seems to make the most sense since its counterpart Sphenacodon was basically a Dimetrodon without the sail. The only other animal with a similar sail on its back was Edaphosaurus, an herbivorous contemporary which often ended up on Dimetrodon's menu. Edaphosaurus' sail was far less fragile than Dimetrodon's, being formed of robust spinal extensions with smaller barbs growing from the sides.
Update: We have reached $545.00 (77.86% of our goal)! Thank you to everybody who has contributed thus far. By the way, the offer of a cast of the head (24" long) will be for EVERYONE who donates $100.00 or more-- not just for the first two as originally posted.
A pretender to the throne: Sphenacodon. Sphenacodon was a contemporary of Dimetrodon. In fact, they were nearly identical except Sphenacodon did not have a sail on its back. Paleontologists first thought this was a form of sexual dimorphism-- the males had the sail, females did not. The only problem was the two species have never been found together, thus determing they were not the same animal. For me this is fortunate, so if I get lazy and decide not to make the sail I will simply call it "Sphenacodon".
I didn't post any "fun and exciting facts about Dimetrodon" yesterday out of respect for the holiday and everything (and everyone) it stands for.
Even though Dimetrodon died out millions of years before the first dinosaur popped its head from inside an egg, it has living descendants.
Who are they?
That's right. Dimetrodon was what is called a "mammal-like" reptile, from which mammals ultimately evolved. This is determined by the single skull opening behind the eye (the post orbital finestra) and the two sizes of teeth for which Dimetrodon was named. These are characteristics unique to mammals.
The dinosaurs were not the only victims to suffer a major extinction event. While they are the most famous, the largest extinction event to ever hit the Eath was that at the end of the Permian which killed NINETY PERCENT of all life on the planet, including-- you guessed it-- Dimetrodon.
Could Dimetrodon survive today? Actually, no. Even if one could be cloned it would have to be kept in an airtight enivronment with special gasses pumped in for it to breathe, because back when Dimetrodon ruled the Earth oxygen was a deadly poison to the animal life. Kind of like in the film "Avatar".
Dimetrodon was the Tyrannosaurus rex of the Permian epoch. A popular animal among paleo enthusiasts such as myself, it is often mistaken for a dinosaur, even though it lived some 90 million years BEFORE the first dinosaurs appeared. Known primarily by its lizard-like stance, long, sharp teeth and the three-foot-tall sail that adorned its back. Take a moment to Google it and learn more!
This is an 11-foot (lifesize) model of the Permian predator Dimetrodon I am building to start a business building museum displays. I need funding to complete the model which is partially molded and will be finished in fiberglass when complete. Thank you for your consideration!
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