Fan Dance: Quick Bite

The temps are dropping, so today on Museum Quick Bites we’re turning up the heat with Dimetrodon, a carnivorous beast that roamed the earth approximately 286 million years ago.

Dimetrodon Skull, Michigan State University Museum, photo by cjverb (2021)

Named for its fearsome set of teeth…All the better to eat you my dear!…Dimetrodon measured up to 11 feet long and sported an impressive fan-like structure on its back. Paleontologists theorize Dimetrodon unfurled its fan to intimidate both predator and prey, attract males to fight or mate, and to regulate its body temperature. Like Goldilocks, Dimetrodon’s fan warmed it up when it was too cold and cooled it down when it was too hot.

Left: Dimetrodon, photo by D’Arcy Norman, Wikimedia Commons

Right: Dimetrodon grandis 3D Model Reconstruction, photo by Max Bellomio, Wikimedia Commons

Fun Carnivorous Fact: Dimetrodon liked to snack on Diplocaulus a little meat-eating amphibian nicknamed boomerang head for its unusually shaped skull. To learn more, click on this Museum Bites Boomerang Head: Quick Bite link.

Diplocaulus Skeleton, Musée d’Histoire Naturelle et Vivarium Tournai, Wikimedia Commons

Like Diplocaulus, Dimetrodon was wiped out during the Great Dying, earth’s largest extinction event to date that marked the end of the Permian Period (~299-252 million years ago). If you’d like to learn more about Dimetrodon and the Permian Period, click on this Dimetrodon link, courtesy of Britannica.

That concludes our brief look at Dimetrodon. I’ll be back next week with more Museum Quick Bites, until then, be safe, be kind, and take care 🙂

Cover photo by Wei Zhu, courtesy of Pixabay.


American Museum of Natural History: Dimetrodon
Angielczyk, K.D. Dimetrodon Is Not a Dinosaur: Using Tree Thinking to Understand the Ancient Relatives of Mammals and their Evolution. Evo Edu Outreach 2, 257–271 (2009).
Britannica: Dimetrodon
Britannica: Permian Period
Michigan State University Science & Culture Museum
Museum Bites Boomerang Head: Quick Bite (2021)
Smithsonian Magazine: The Dimetrodon in Your Family Tree (2009)
WikiMedia Commons: Dimetrodon

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