Named By: Robert Broom - 1920.
Classification: Chordata, Synapsida, Therapsida, Therocephalia, Akidnognathidae.
Species: M. kitchingi (type).
Size: Skull size for specimens in the Permian up to about 20.7 centimetres. Skull size of specimens in the early Triassic up to about 17.9 centimetres long.
Known locations: South Africa - Katberg Formation, Normandien Formation.
Time period: Induan of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: Partial remains of a few individuals.
is an interesting genus of therocephalian therapsid as the genus
developed cranial features that were very similar to gorgonopsid
even though it was not a direct relative of them. Like
the gorgonopsids, Moschorhinus was a key predator
of the time,
hunting medium to large herbivorous animals. The main killing
weapons used by Moschorhinus would have been the
two enlarged canine
teeth in the upper jaw that pointed down similar to the sabre-teeth of
sabre-toothed cats some two hundred and fifty million years later.
Moschorhinus fossils are so far known from the end of the Permian and the early Triassic, showing us that the Moschorhinus genus lived through the Permian/Triassic Extinction event, the most devastating extinction event to ever hit the planet. However while we know that as a genus Moschorhinus survived this event, we also know that the genus had to adapt to do so. We know this because the skulls of Moschorhinus that lived after the extinction event are approximately 14% smaller than Moschorhinus that lived in the Permian before the extinction event. This tells us that with reduced numbers of plant eating animals to hunt, Moschorhinus grew smaller so that it would not have to eat so much in order to survive. This reducing in size is what naturalists refer to as the ‘lilliput effect’.
- Body size and growth patterns in the therocephalian Moschorhinus kitchingi (Therapsida: Eutheriodontia) before and after the end-Permian extinction in South Africa. - Paleobiology - Adam K. Huttenlocker & Jennifer Botha-Brink - 2013.