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tetraceratops insignis, tetraceratops
Tetraceratops insignis "four-horned face emblem" is an extinct synapsid from the Early Permian that may be the first known representative of Therapsida, a group that includes mammals and their close extinct relatives[1][2] It is known from a single 90-millimetre-long 35 in skull, discovered in Texas in 1908


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Classification
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links



Contrary to its genus name, Tetraceratops actually has six horns, one pair being on the premaxilla bones, one pair on the prefrontal bones, and one pair on the angular processes of the mandible When it was discovered and described in 1908, the skull was still embedded in a matrix, and only the premaxilla and prefrontal pairs were visible In life, thus, it would have resembled a large lizard with four horns on its snout, and a pair of large spines emanating from the corners of its jaw

In addition to horns, Tetraceratops also had an impressive set of teeth The second pair of teeth on the maxillary bones were large and fang-like Likewise the first teeth in the upper jaw were long and dagger-like


Hypothetical full-body reconstruction

Tetraceratops was originally identified as a member of a group called Pelycosauria, an evolutionary grade of synapsids more basal than therapsids It has been variously grouped in the family Sphenacodontidae, which is closely related to Therapsida, and Eothyrididae, which is more distantly related Recent phylogenetic studies classify it as either a pelycosaur-grade synapsid or the basalmost therapsid, meaning that its exact phylogenetic placement is still uncertain[2][3][4][5]

See also

  • Paleontology portal
  • List of synapsids
  • Evolution of mammals
  • Biarmosuchia


  1. ^ Laurin, M; Reisz R R 1996 "The osteology and relationships of Tetraceratops insignis, the oldest known therapsid" Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 16 1: 95–102 doi:101080/02724634199610011287 
  2. ^ a b Amson, E; Laurin M 2011 "On the affinities of Tetraceratops insignis, an Early Permian synapsid" Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56 2: 301–312 doi:104202/app20100063 
  3. ^ Sidor, C A; Hopson, J A 1998 "Ghost lineages and "mammalness": assessing the temporal pattern of character acquisition in the Synapsida" Paleobiology 24 2: 254–273 JSTOR 2401242 
  4. ^ Conrad, J; Sidor, C A 2001 "Re-evaluation of Tetraceratops insignis Synapsida: Sphenacodontia" Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21: 42A doi:101080/02724634200110010852 
  5. ^ Liu, J; Rubidge, B; Li, J 2009 "New basal synapsid supports Laurasian origin for therapsids" Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54 3: 393–400 doi:104202/app20080071 

External links

  • Palaeoscom's article on therapsids
  • khepernet

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