Gorgonopsid Facts | Gorgonopsid Size | Gorgonopsid Skull & Skeleton
Gorgonopsid is an extinct, carnivorous synapsid belonging to the family Gorgonopsidae. These animals were large and predatory for their time, with powerful jaws and sharp teeth. They are often mistaken for dinosaurs in media due to their large size and prominent teeth.
Gorgonopsid is a genus of therapsid that existed in Southern Africa during the Permian Period, approximately 260 to 250 million years ago. Its name derives from the mythical Gorgons, with “gorgon” meaning “dreadful” or “terrible”. The Gorgonopsids were among the various species of apex predators living in southern Africa during its time.
Gorgonopsids were roughly wolf-sized animals with robust bodies and short stocky legs. They had round heads with large jaws, long sharp teeth, and eyes pointing forwards.
There are two main groups of Gorgonopsids:
- The galeaspids, which were similar to the better-known gorgonopsids in form and function, but lacked the characteristic “death-lock” jaw joint;
- More advanced gorgonopsids, who had a modified skull that allowed a greater range of movement for their jaws.
The gorgonopsid-like forms, such as “Gorgonops”, had smooth jaw joints and larger skulls. In contrast, the more advanced gorgonopsids, such as “Kuehneosuchus”, had a more complicated skull structure that supported the jaw by means of a wide bony socket on each side of the skull. The differentiation between these groups was not fully understood until much later in Gorgonopsid history.
The first fossils of Gorgonopsids were discovered in southern Africa during the late 1800s by Champollion Charles Joseph Xavier Félix, an important French Egyptologist who also made significant contributions to the study of hieroglyphics. The fossils were discovered by Félix in an area that would become known as the Karoo Basin.
Of approximately 15 recognized species, they lived anywhere from the Middle Permian to the early Triassic Periods. They are thought to have been one of the very first predators on land, having evolved from their amphibious relatives in response to the new, unbounded environment.
Gorgonopsids had short, powerful legs and large claws on their feet. They were able to move quickly across the ground but would have been an awkward climber. Paleontologists are uncertain whether they could rear up on their hind legs and walk bipedally, or whether they always moved about on all-fours while on land.
Their feet were short, yet powerful enough to have allowed for quick sprinting on land, and their bodies were large and bulky enough to withstand a fall. Like most early synapsids, Gorgonopsids had no collarbones (also known as clavicles) supporting the shoulder and allowing the upper arm bone (humerus) to be attached.
However, gorgonopsids did have a pair of bones (coracoids) in the shoulder region that supported the pectoral girdle. The pectoral girdle was formed from a set of bones (the scapula and coracoid) that united to form a wide, flat plate that supported the forelimbs in life.
While gorgonopsids are often thought to have been relative late-comers to the terrestrial ecosystem, others have suggested that they were one of the very first predators on land. Their large jaws and sharp teeth suggest an aggressive lifestyle in which they used surprise as a tactic to catch prey off-guard.
However, their mass and short limbs (although this could have been compensated for in part by the well-developed neck of the gorgonopsids) suggest that they were not as fast or agile as modern large, carnivorous predators, despite their large size and powerful jaws. However, they would have had claws strong enough to enable them to cling to tree branches, giving them a high degree of mobility on land.
Gorgonopsids were still very dependent on the water at the time, however, as their gills would have required periodic cleaning. As such, it is thought that they would have been nomadic predators that ranged far and wide in search of prey.
As we can tell from the fossil evidence, they would have been able to move across a wide range of habitats including semi-arid scrubland, tropical savannah, and forested areas due to their ability to climb trees.
This creature had a short snout, sharp teeth, and protruding eyes. It also had large canines that may have been used for stabbing prey
Gorgonopsid Bite Force (Jaws)
Gorgonopsians had fangs that were about 6 inches long, they also had a bite force of around 1250 psi and a bite force of 50% stronger than a T-Rex. They have a very distinctive jaw structure that has been the subject of much speculation and is the primary reason that paleontologists believe them to be an early branch of synapsids alongside Caseasauria.
Their unique design has been theorized to allow for the manipulation of prey in accordance with the gorgonopsid’s semi-climbing lifestyle.
The structure of the jaw and its ability to move from side to side is also a product of the gorgonopsid’s semi-climbing lifestyle. Their jaws are composed of two halves (the upper being the right, and lower being left) that are locked together with a hinge joint at the rear of the skull called a “death-lock”.
This locking mechanism is what gave this family its name, as it created an interlocking mechanism that prevented large amounts of energy from being expended while feeding.
This “death-lock” would have allowed for the flexible jaw to move from side to side, and other bending motions such as gaping and snarling. This flexibility would have been useful not only for predation but also for scavenging off-cuts.
The gorgonopsid skull can be broken down into three sections: the front of the skull; the back of the skull; and the neck. The front of the skull (called the rostrum), is the area of the skull that interacts with prey and includes most of the teeth. This portion of the skull is broad and flat but is largely obscured by large fangs.
Gorgonopsian fangs were often over long, making them impractical for use in everyday activity. The jaws are lined by numerous small teeth with a triangular cross-section that are interspersed between larger canine-like “fangs”.
The purpose of these fangs is not entirely clear. It’s possible that these teeth functioned as a means to aid predation by stabilizing their prey or possibly by helping in the slaughter of prey.
In some gorgonopsians, the fangs protrude from and are loosely spaced out along a large tube-like bone called the maxilla (which is homologous to the upper jaw bones in mammals) which runs along most of the rostrum. In the more basal gorgonopsids, however, the fangs are solid and are situated in a continuous row at the front of the mouth.
Near the base of this tooth, row is a large number of smaller triangular teeth that alternate with larger canine-like teeth; these are termed “cheek teeth”. The maxilla is often found to end in an extremely short and broad spike called a “tusk” (though most paleontologists consider this quality to be unique to ceratopsians).
In some gorgonopsians, the rostrum is not as well-developed, and is instead replaced by a large gap at the front of the skull filled in with tiny teeth.
The back of the skull contains the braincase. The general quality of this portion of the skull varies amongst different species. Gorgonopsians also have an opening in their backs called a “post parietal fenestra”, which vaguely resembles a pair of eye sockets and would have been covered by a thick skin flap.
Most gorgonopsians also have a pair of long, thin spikes on the posterior region of the skull called occipital spines, which are typical for most carnivorous archosaurs.
In synapsids with fur or hair (e.g., mammals), the anteorbital fossa is a depression in front of the eyes, in which hair follicles are present. A similar structure, the preorbital fossa, is present in some dinosaurs. The gorgonopsid “Styracosaurus” also has a series of ridges along the top of the skull that are referred to as turbinates, which resemble a line of turbinates on an elephant’s trunk.
A “nasal sail” is also found in other vertebrates, consisting of an expanded region on the front end of the skull and likely serving for air cooling and/or display.
A close relative, the abelisaurids, possess a prominent sail of bony plates over the dorsal surface of their snout. The sail is most pronounced in “Abelisaurus” and is present in other abelisaurids as well, but absent in other gorgonopsians.
The sails are thought to be associated with the display function for mating, though they may also have served a cooling function. Less likely theories suggest a display function for dominance or protection from the sun.
The skull of “Gorgosaurus” is highly derived among theropods in that it lacks a prefrontal bone and has greatly expanded nasal cavities that extend back along the skull roof. The premaxilla-nasal suture is extremely reduced in size, as with other tyrannosaurids. The nasal fenestrae are very long and narrow.
The frontal region shows a slight depression in the frontal bone, while the postorbital region is broad. Two longitudinal furrows are present on each side of the skull roof; these furrows are thought to be for the attachment of neck muscles.
Gorgonopsid is believed to have been about 2 meters (6.5fts) long and weighed about 120 pounds. They were Extremely aggressive, takes food after a chase.
The gorgonopsid was once thought to be related to monitor lizards, and possibly also alligators.
Gorgonopsid Vs Future Predator
Primeval Gorgonopsid is a therapsid and the future Predator is an archosauromorph. The two species are separated by approximately 200 million years in age and evolution.
Primeval Gorgonopsid was a predator that lived in the Early Permian period and had sharp teeth, claws, and long fangs to help it hunt prey.
The Future Predator is an apex predator from the future that has a DNA-based healing factor and can regenerate limbs as well as organs
Gorgonopsids were roughly the size of a wolf, while future predators are typically larger than an average human.
Gorgonopsids ate mostly plants and small animals, while future predators eat almost exclusively meat.
Gorgonopsids were solitary creatures that hunted at night, while future predators live in packs and hunt during the day
Gorgonopsids are an extinct group of synapsid, or “mammal-like reptiles”, that lived in the Permian period.
The largest gorgonopsid was named after a mythical Greek creature and is called Gorgosaurus
It had large canine teeth with serrated edges to help it tear into its prey’s flesh. It also had a long skull with powerful jaws for crushing bones
Gorgonopsid Height is estimated to be about 7 feet tall. Gorgonopsid Height is about 2 meters long and has a slim body
Gorgonopsids were a group of large, predatory synapsids that lived in Africa and southern Asia during the Permian Period. They are an extinct group of animals that lived during the Permian period
Gorgonopsid were large, carnivorous creatures with powerful jaws and sharp teeth. The most famous gorgonopsid is Estemmenosuchus which was discovered in Russia They had long, narrow snouts with many sharp teeth for catching prey.
Paleontologist claimed that all species of gorgonopsid became extinct around 252 million years ago.