[ehr' E ops] the "long face"
amphibian of the Early Permian
Looking much like the modern
crocodile, Eryops had a stout body with
very wide ribs, a strong spine, four short,
strong legs, a short tail, and a wide, elongated
skull with many sharp teeth in strong jaws. One
of the largest land animals of its time, it
averaged 5 to 6.5 feet in length and weighed
about 200 pounds. The low-slung body was only
barely supported by its legs, which were splayed
out at an angle that would have made Eryops
fairly clumsy on land. Like modern crocodiles,
however, it was likely fairly agile, albeit
relatively slow, in water.
The most distinguishing
features of Eryops were its broad, flat
skull (up to 2 feet long) and huge mouth full of
teeth that had enamel with a folded pattern.
Eryops lived in swamps and along
rivers and lakes in North America and western
Europe during the Early Permian Period (295-270
million years ago).
Eryops probably hunted like the
crocodiles it resembled, floating just below the
surface of shallow swamps and snapping up any
fish and other small animals that swam too near.
It would clutch its prey and, lacking any chewing
mechanism, toss its head up and backwards,
throwing the prey farther back into its mouth.
As an amphibian, Eryops most likely
laid its eggs in or very near water.
The most complete Eryops fossils have
been found in Texas and New Mexico, and a few
have also been found in the eastern United
States, especially West Virginia. The genus was
named by Edward Drinker Cope in 1887.
genus Eryops megacephalus
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