Hyperodapedon

Name: Hyperodapedon ‭(‬Best pestle tooth‭)‬.
Phonetic: High-per-o-dap-e-don.
Named By: Thomas Henry Huxley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1859.
Synonyms: Cephalonia lotziana,‭ ‬Macrocephalosaurus mariensis,‭ ‬Paradapedon huxleyi,‭ ‬Scaphonyx africanus,‭ ‬Scaphonyx australis,‭ ‬Scaphonyx fischeri,‭ ‬Scaphonyx sanjuanensis,‭ ‬Stenometopon taylori.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Rhynchosauria,‭ ‬Hyperodapedontidae,‭ ‬Hyperodapedontinae.
Species: H.‭ ‬gordoni‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬H.‭ ‬huenei,‭ ‬H.‭ ‬huxleyi,‭ ‬H.‭ ‬mariensis,‭ ‬H.‭ ‬sanjuanensis, H. tikiensis.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: Around‭ ‬1.3‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Confirmed from Argentina,‭ ‬Brazil,‭ ‬India,‭ ‬Scotland.‭ ‬Possibly also from Canada and the USA.
Time period: Carnian of the Triassic.‭
Fossil representation: Multiple specimens.

       Hyperodapedon is one of the best known rhynchosaurs that were specialised herbivores that lived during the Triassic‭ ‬which had large incisor teeth that are thought to have been used to break open the seeds of extinct plants called seed ferns.‭ ‬Once the seed husk was split open,‭ ‬the softer internal parts were mashed between the teeth at the back of the mouth so that they could be more easily digested.‭ ‬The specialisation of Hyperodapedon saw it able to compete with other herbivores by feeding on plant parts others were unable to do.‭ ‬However it was this very specialisation that seems to have been their downfall as when the seed ferns disappeared towards the end of the Triassic,‭ ‬the rhynchosaurs soon followed.
       The large geographic distribution of Hyperodapedon was possible because while the super continent Pangaea was breaking up during the Triassic,‭ ‬the main land masses were still largely connected together.‭ ‬The rhynchosaurs seem to be at their most numerous across South America and Africa which would have been connected during the Triassic‭ (‬if you look at a map of the world you will see that eastern coast of South America and the‭ ‬western coast of Africa still roughly fit together as if the two continents are two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle‭)‬.
       Hyperodapedon would have probably fallen prey to large rauisuchian predators like Saurosuchus,‭ ‬but it needs to be membered that Hyperodapedon also existed in the same ecosystems which saw the early dinosaurs.‭ ‬Although not yet as powerful as the rauisuchians,‭ ‬dinosaurs such as Herrerasaurus could use their speed to quickly rush in and snatch away juvenile animals.

Further reading
- A note on some rhynchosaurian remains from Tanganyika Territory. - Annals of the South African Museum 42:1-4. - D. Boonstra - 1953.
- A new species of the Late Triassic rhynchosaur Hyperodapedon from the Santa Maria Formation of south Brazil. - Palaeontology 43 (6): 633–652. - Max C. Langer & Cesar L. Schultz - 2000.
- A new Hyperodapedon (Archosauromorpha, Rhynchosauria) from the Upper Triassic of India: implications for rhynchosaur phylogeny. - Palaeontology. doi: 10.1111/pala.12113. - D. Mukherjee & S. Ray - 2014.



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