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287mn-yr-old pre-dino era predator found with fangs intact

December 7, 2010 - Washington

A rare skull-complete with fangs-of a pre-dinosaur era predator that lived 287 million years ago has been found in a Texas dig.

Paleontologists from the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) said the skull-nicknamed 'Wet Willi'-belongs to Dimetrodon giganhomogenes, reports the Discovery News.

This reptile, with its iconic sail-shaped back, is often mistakenly identified as a dinosaur, and is even included in packages of toy dinosaurs.

Robert Bakker, curator of paleontology at the HMNS, and his team found the new specimen at Craddock Brothers Ranch in Seymour, Texas.

'Wet Willi' would have been 11 feet long with a four-foot vertical fin running the length of his body. However, the purpose of the prominent fin that defines this species has been debated since it was first discovered 1878.

It was originally suggested that the fin was used for thermoregulati-self-regulation of body temperature-even when outside temperatures may vary drastically

It now, however, seems more likely that this dramatic fin was for show, to intimidate enemies and woo potential mates.


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