The crosswise biter, Diadectes (1878)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Amphibia
Order : Reptiliomorpha
Suborder : Diadectomorpha
Family : Diadectidae
Genus : Diadectes
Species : D. lentus, D. sideropelicus, D. tenuitectus, D. carinatus, D. sanmiguelensis, D. absitus
It possesses some characteristics of reptilians and amphibians, combining a reptile-like skeleton with a more primitive, seymouriamorph-like skull. Diadectes has been classified as belonging to the sister group of the amniotes.
Among its primitive features, Diadectes has a large otic notch (a feature found in all labyrinthodonts, but not in reptiles) with an ossified tympanum. At the same time its teeth show advanced specialisations for an herbivorous diet that are not found in any other type of early Permian animal. The eight front teeth are spatulate and peg-like, and served as incisors that were used to nip off mouthfuls of vegetation. The broad, blunt cheek teeth show extensive wear associated with occlusion, and would have functioned as molars, grinding up the food. It also had a partial secondary palate, which meant it could chew its food and breathe at the same time, something many even more advanced reptiles were unable to do.
These traits are likely adaptations related to the animals’ high-fiber herbivorous diet, and evolved independently of similar traits seen in some reptilian groups. Many of the reptile-like details of the post-cranial skeleton are possibly related to carrying the substantial trunk, these may be independently derived traits on Diadectes and their relatives. Though very similar, they would be anaologous rather than homologous to those of early amniotes like pelycosaurs and pareiasaurs, as the first reptiles evolved from small, swamp dwelling animals like Casineria and Westlothiana.