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Lycaenops spp.
zergthe Wrote:Lycaenops spp.

Temporal range: Middle - Late Permian 270.6–251 Ma

Scientific classification
Type Species:Lycaenops ornatus

  • L. ornatus Broom, 1925
  • L. angusticeps Broom, 1913
  • L. microdon Boonstra, 1934
  • L. sollasi Broili and Schröder, 1935
Lycaenops ("Wolf-Face") is a genus of carnivorous therapsid. It lived during the late mid-Permian to the early Late Permian, about 270.6-251 mya, in what is now South Africa.

Lycaenops measured about 1 m (3 ft) and weighed up to 15 kg (33 lb). Like the modern-day wolves from which it takes its name, Lycaenops had a long and slender skull, with a set of dog-like fangs set into both its upper and lower jaws. These pointed canine teeth were ideal for the use of stabbing and/or tearing at the flesh of any large prey that it came upon. Lycaenops most likely hunted small vertebrates such as reptiles and dicynodonts.

Lycaenops walked and ran with its long legs held close to its body. This is a feature found in mammals, but not in more primitive amniotes, early reptiles, and synapsids such as pelycosaurs, whose legs are positioned to the sides of their bodies. The ability to move like a mammal would have given Lycaenops an advantage over other land vertebrates, since it would have been able to outrun them.

The type species Lycaenops ornatus was named by South African paleontologist Robert Broom in 1925. Several other species have also been referred to the genus, including L. angusticeps, which was originally named Scymnognathus angusticeps, L. kingwilli, which was originally named Tigricephalus kingwilli and is now placed in the genus Aelurognathus, and L. tenuirostris, which was originally named Tangagorgon tenuirostris and is now in the genus Cyonosaurus. Two additional species, L. microdon and L. sollasi, were added to Lycaenops after having been classified as species of Aelurognathus. The species L. minor is now considered a synonym of L. sollasi.

Prehistoric Wildlife
[Image: lycaenops-size.jpg]
Name: Lycaenops ‭(‬Wolf face‭)‬.
Phonetic: Ly-can-ops.
Named By: Robert Broom‭ ‬-‭ ‬1925.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Synapsida,‭ ‬Therapsida,‭ ‬Gorgonopsia,‭ 
Species: L.‭ ‬ornatus‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬L.‭ ‬angusticeps,‭ ‬L.‭ ‬kingwilli.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: 1‭ ‬meter long.
Known locations: South Africa.
Time period: Wuchiapingian of the Permian.
Fossil representation: Complete specimen and additional partial skulls.

       Lycaenops acquired its name from the striking similarity between it and modern wolves.‭ ‬Although Lycaenops itself was what is loosely termed a mammal like reptile,‭ ‬its similarity to wolves is most likely a case of convergent evolution.‭ ‬Some sources about prehistoric animals also go one further and claim that Lycaenops also hunted in packs like wolves do.‭ ‬However this is pure speculation based upon the translation of the name,‭ ‬and no fossil evidence exists to corroborate this claim.
       Although often noted for having a pair of large canine teeth which required the skull to be deeper in order to accommodate the large roots,‭ ‬the key features of study for Lycaenops are actually the legs.‭ ‬Many of the therapsids had legs that sprawled out to the sides or a combination of forelegs to the side and hind‭ ‬legs underneath.‭ ‬In Lycaenops however all four legs supported the body from underneath.‭ ‬Aside from more efficient weight bearing,‭ ‬muscles that had been used to support the body from the side could now be used just for movement.‭ ‬This more specialised muscle development combined with the stride of its long legs granted Lycaenops the ability to run faster and longer than other therapsids that still had the old sprawling body design.‭ 
       With a body of length of one meter Lycaenops was very small when compared to both other carnivores and herbivores.‭ ‬Given its smaller size Lycaenops probably hunted for smaller prey which it could catch more easily with little risk of injury.‭ ‬Once prey was caught the enlarged pair of upper canines could be brought down for a quick kill.

Mauricio Antón's book Sabertooth, pages 79-80, on type species L. ornatus:
Although not larger than a medium-sized dog, Lycaenops was a fierce predator, with marked sabertooth features. It had a narrow skull, and the snout was slightly convex dorsally.
Fossils of this species come from the so-called Cistecephalus zone of the Karoo, and the type specimen was a fairly complete skeleton that R. Broom described in 1925, and that was later acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. At that time, the specimen had not been completely prepared, a task that was undertaken in the 1940s when the museum staff decided to mount the skeleton for exhibit. So many relevant anatomical details were revealed by the cleaning and preparation, that in 1948 E. H. Colbert published a complete redescription-one of the outstanding masterpieces of vertebrate paleontology.

zergthe Wrote:Article: New data on the cranial anatomy of Lycaenops (Synapsida, Gorgonopsidae), and reflections on the possible presence of streptostyly in gorgonopsians

Study of a skull attributed to Lycaenops angusticeps reveals the presence of a ventral flange of the jugal that supports the transverse flange of the pterygoid. The quadrate was apparently not streptostylic, contrary to previous reports because its articulation with the epipterygoid and the pterygoid would only allow slight bending and because extensive movement of the quadrate would have been accompanied by similar movements of the stapes. Several characters previously used to argue for streptostyly of the gorgonopsian quadrate are primitive characters that were present in Permo-Carboniferous synapsids. The reduction of the contact between quadrate and pterygoid may have been selected for improved hearing of air-borne sounds. The reflected lamina was possibly involved in the reception of air-borne sounds (if gorgonopsians could detect them), along with the tympanum.
Request the full article here or here.
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
Excerpt from An Ecological and Behavioural Explanation of Mammalian Characteristics, and their Implication to Therapsid Evolution:

Quote:Our assumption that cynodonts possessed frontal jaw grasping, and combat like modern carnivores, finds support in a number of therapsid attributes. Note the short tail of cynodonts i. e. Thrinaxodon (Brink 1956) or even Cynognathus. In reptiles, the massive tails are used in inter- and intraspecific combat (Rotter 1963, Bellairs 1969). A reduction in tail size and increase in the sturdiness of the skull and jaws suggest a shift of emphasis in combat from tail lashing to biting, and consequently a defence against biting, namely jaw grasping. This mode of defence could well have been practiced by the gorgonopsians i. e. Lycaenops (Colbert 1958, Fig. 42). The exceedingly massive lower jaw of this genus may well have evolved to resist crushing when grasped, as well as to protect the long canines against breakage.

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