Produced by the Population Genetics and Evolution class, Furman University

Titanophoneus and the Dinocephalians
Titanophoneus potens belongs to the group known as dinocephalians, terrestrial therapsids that closely resemble large reptiles. Fossil records indicate that they were very large in size, sometimes reaching lengths of six meters from head to tail (Kazlev 1999). Like most other dinocephalians, their great size gave them a competitive advantage. Scientists believe that these creatures were omnivores due to the type and placement of various teeth found in the recovered skull fossils (Bristol 2010); but they were certainly impressive predators, too. All dinocephalians, including Titanophoneus, had an enormous amount of jaw strength because of the muscle attachment on their skull. Since all of them are therapsids, they had the single large temporal openings in their skulls that characterize the synapsida. This opening allowed for a larger muscles to attach to their jaw, therefore creating are stronger biting force (Pruitt and Karhu 2010). This evolutionary trait would have benefited them when hunting and eating other organisms. Extinct therapsids like these dinocephalians are important evolutionarily because they represent one of the early synapsid radiations - a radiation that included the ancestors of true mammals.

Page by Pete Calomiris

Titanophoneus. Picture from:

Kazlev, MA. 1998. Dinocephalia. Accessed March 2010.

Pruitt C, and Karhu A. 2010. Titanophoneus potens. Paleontological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences. Accessed March 2010.

University of Bristol. 2010. Dinocephelia. Accessed March 2010.