Astashikha, Nizhegorodskaya Region, Russia

Early Triassic, 240 million years ago

Adults about 1 metre long

'Shovel reptile'


THERAPSIDA: Anomodontia; Lystrosauridae

Lystrosaurus has long been known from many parts of the ancient megacontinent Gondwana, although it has yet to be found in Australia.

It is known, for example, in Antarctica, India, and Africa. In recent decades it has been found in Russia, China and Mongolia. This may be the result of movement of animals from Gondwana across the large landmass of northern and southern continents combined Pangaea, at the time Lystrosaurus lived.

Historically, however, the geographic distribution of Lystrosaurus and a number of other animals and plants were used as evidence of the past existence of Gondwana.

As in another mammal-like reptiles Dicynodon, the teeth of Lystrosaurus were reduced to a pair of tusks. Both of these reptiles appear to have been herbivores.

The structure of the skull, with the nostrils and eye sockets placed near the top of the head, the snout turned down at the tip and the teeth and jaws placed low, all suggest that Lystrosaurus was an amphibious feeder, in much the same fashion as the living hippopotamus.

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