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Dimetrodon proven to be the first vertebrate carnivore with serrated teeth

This is an artist’s impression of a Dimetrodon.
This is an artist’s impression of a Dimetrodon.
Danielle Dufault

A new investigation of the development of serrated teeth in land animals has found the first evidence that Dimetrodon was the first vertebrate animal to develop serrated teeth. The study was conducted by Kirstin Brink and Professor Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto Mississauga and published in the Feb. 7, 2014, issue of the journal Nature Communications.

Various species of Dimetrodon lived on Earth for 25 million years between 298 million years ago and 272 million years ago.

The first species of Dimetrodon did not have serrated teeth but the researchers have proven that Dimetrodon was the first land vertebrate to develop serrated teeth about 40 million years before other dinosaurs did.

The development of serrated teeth allowed Dimetrodon to rip and tear flesh and feed on much larger animals.

The development of serrated teeth in Dimetrodon was not accompanied by a change in the shape or size of the animal’s skull. This discovery leads the researchers to conclude that adaptation that produced the first serrated teeth in a vertebrate carnivore that lived on land was caused primarily by a need to feed. Serrated teeth provided the animals with a feeding advantage that other tooth shapes could not provide.

Dimetrodon became the top predator during the Early Permian Period and is considered to be an early ancestor of mammals.