Permian monsters roamed the earth before the rise of the dinosaurs | Albiseyler

Permian monsters roamed the earth before the rise of the dinosaurs

Teeth, claws, huge silhouettes: this is what many of us see when we imagine a prehistoric planet. However, before the rise of the dinosaurs that saw them take over the earth, there were a variety of animals until Chicxulub crashed the party.

The same dino fever that has led some people to believe that some still live in the Congo has also led most of us to completely forget that in paleontology there are a whole host of species that he came before dinosaurs walked the earth, which began about 200 million years ago. The Permian animals lived between 299 and 251 million years ago and were among the first plant-eating and carnivorous giants to ever cross the planet.

Unfortunately, they too would see a terrible demise, as mass extinctions—which may have resulted from climate change—wiped out about 90 percent of life on Earth. It’s known as the Permian Extinction and is considered by some to be Earth’s worst day, which is saying something because it’s had some bad events.

The Permian had remarkable biodiversity, including animals that may look and sound like dinosaurs but weren’t actually dinosaurs. Here, Dimetrodon (pictured above) comes to mind, which is a large, non-mammalian log of an animal with a giant sail on its back. They were synapsids, a group of animals from the Permian and Triassic that began to show more and more mammalian features over time, eventually giving rise to their early ancestors.

Cotylorhynchus was massive, estimated it exceeded 4.5 meters (14.8 ft) in length and weighed about 330 kilograms (728 lb).

Image credit: Kostiantyn Ivanyshen/

We simply can’t touch synapsids without a tip of the hat Cotylorhynchus, an animal best described as a pea crocodile with about seven more chins than you’d expect. It had a barrel-shaped body and a broad, thick skull, and was an important part of the ecosystem as one of the first large herbivores.

They look a bit like reptiles because they are a bit like reptiles, which evolved as one of the two major vertebrate phyla that evolved from basal amniotes. The second group was the sauropsids, branching off into reptiles and birds.

Edaphosaurus standing on a rock.

Edaphosaurus lived in what is now North America and Europe.

Image credit: Elenarts/

If you’re into sailboards, then Edaphosaurus is another Permian monster you’ll be interested in Edaphosaurus. It measured up to 3.5 meters (11.5 ft) in length and had a small head equipped with large, pin-shaped teeth, ideal for crushing plants.

Scutosaurus standing around.

Scutosaurus looks menacing, but it was sort of the Permian answer to the cow.

Image credit: Esteban De Armas/

Scutosaurus was another Permian herbivore. “But all these animals have ‘saurus’ in their names!” I hear you cry, “Doesn’t that mean a dinosaur?” Actually no. Saurus means lizard, which is why it is used for many lizard-like dinosaurs (Tyrannosaurus means, for example, a terrible lizard).

Palaeoart of Scutosaurus he looks like a fearsome foe, covered in armor plates with a stocky build and an intimidating ~3 meter (~9.8 ft) frame. However, this large anapsid reptile is comparable in size and lifestyle to a cow, traveling long distances in search of fresh leaves.

Inostrancevia standing and looking around the terrain.

Inostrancevia was a large carnivorous therapsinus and is known from two nearly complete specimens.

Image credit: Esteban De Armas/

The Permian had its predators and one of the most impressive was Foreigners – one of the largest and most fearsome of the group known as the Gorgonopsids. The main group of synapsids were carnivorous predators with large, sharp canines that made them look almost like saber-toothed cats (although they would not evolve until several hundred million years later). They are believed to have used them in a similar manner when capturing and tearing apart their prey.

Foreigners it was among the largest, stretching well over 3 meters (9.8 ft) in length with strong limbs, a long muscular tail and a bulky body up to its boots. It would have fed on early reptiles and synapsids as a Permian apex predator, but its lofty position wasn’t enough to save it from the Permian extinction, which paved the way for the biodiversity boom of the Triassic period—the time otherwise known as the rise of the dinosaurs.

We often think of extinction as the end of something, but when it comes to the bigger picture, extinction is a vital part of life. Without niches to fill, new life and species cannot emerge, and if not for the explosive events that wiped out the Permian monsters, we might never have gotten the Triassic giants.

And without the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs? Well, we probably wouldn’t have internet.

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