Weird Backs Month #07 – Sphenacodon
A close relative of Dimetrodon (who’ll be featuring tomorrow), Sphenacodon lived during the Early Permian (~295-270 mya). Two species are known from New Mexico, USA – and one possible specimen from the United Kingdom – with the larger reaching up to 3m in length (9′10″).
Its elongated vertebrae formed a long low dorsal crest, the very base of which seems to have supported strong back muscles. These would have helped to stiffen the spine, reducing sideways flexion as Sphenacodon moved.
While sphenacodonts are often depicted in sprawling lizardlike postures, fossil trackways show a much more upright semi-erect gait similar to that of crocodilian “high walking”.