Edaphosaurus. They're three-meters-long, as big as hippos, and like them, they're vegetarians. Amazingly, these strange sail-backs are related to us.
— Allen, on Edaphosaurus
in Sail Backs

Edaphosaurus (name meaning "Pavement Lizard") is a genus of edaphosaurid synapsid that originated during the Early Permian Era in what is now North America and Europe. Measuring 3 meters long and weighing 300 kilos, this hippo-sized sail-back mammal-like reptilian herbivore was the first plant-eating reptile to evolve.

In the Series 1 episode "Sail Backs", a herd of a dozen Edaphosaurus and their young were brought back to the park from the Permian of 280 million years ago. They reside in a desert/alpine-like environment within the park.

Fact[edit | edit source]

Era & Discovery[edit | edit source]

Edaphosaurus lived in Germany and North America during the Early Permian Era around 280 – 260 million years ago. It was arguably the largest herbivore in its time and region. It was first discovered by Edward Drinker Cope in 1882.

Physical Attributes[edit | edit source]

Edaphosaurus was a giant, sail back mammal-like reptilian animals that grew to measure 10 feet (3 m) in length, the size of hippos, and like them, Edaphosaurus were also vegetarians. Edaphosaurus was blue with yellow stripes. Its sail had an eye-shaped pattern on it.

To grind down these tough mouthfuls, Edaphosaurus developed a specialized jaw and teeth. They were some of the first creatures with this adaptation. Digesting plants is a more challenging task than meat and the Edaphosaurus vasts stomach acts as a no-stop processing factory.

Amazingly, these strange sail-backs are related to humans. It's down to them that we have control over our body temperature today.

Sail[edit | edit source]

Thanks to the large sails on their back, the backbone of Edaphosaurus had tall spines connected by a thin membrane of blood-filled skin. This large surface area could lose heat fast if the Edaphosaurus needed to cool down. While to heat up, they simply turned their sails towards the sun like a solar panel.

Similar to the dinosaur Stegosaurus, Edaphosaurus could flush blood into their sails to distract predators from their vulnerable heads. With warmer weather, the Edaphosaurus lazed beneath conifers, shading their sails from the sun to avoid overheating.

Behavior & Traits[edit | edit source]

Like many herbivores, Edaphosaurus also lived in huge herds from tens to hundreds of individuals. In these large groups, they nurtured and protected their offspring. Adult Edaphosaurus were practically invulnerable due to their size, and even Dimetrodon preferred to hunt juveniles instead. These creatures also often fed on the thriving conifers.

When the hot, mid-day sunrises, herds of Edaphosaurus laid beneath the conifers to digest and also carefully shades their sails from the heat. When summer arrived, Edaphosaurus thrived in the heat, therefore, often basking in the early morning son. The young that had grown tested out their new-found strength.

Journal Entry[edit | edit source]

Strange sail-back mammal-like reptiles, Edaphosaurus often basked in the early morning sun. Measuring 3 meters in length, these herbivores were as big as hippos and were also vegetarians. It seems that if Edaphosaurus need to warm up, they turn their sails towards the sun but if they need to cool down, the large surface area on their tall spines connected by a thin membrane of blood-filled skin loses heat.

It turns out that in a similar way to the Stegosaurus, in order to protect their vulnerable heads, Edaphosaurus were able to flush blood into their sails as a distraction to predators. The females also nurtured and protected their offspring, which were easy targets for predators, since they were more vulnerable to attack than the adults.

— Allen, in his Journal, about Edaphosaurus

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The sound effects of Edaphosaurus are that of hippopotamus, moose, rhinoceros, and tiger sound effects.
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