Prionosuchus

Name: Prionosuchus.
Phonetic: Pre-on-o-soo-kus.
Named By: L.‭ ‬I.‭ ‬Price‭ ‬-‭ ‬1948.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Amphibia,‭ ‬Temnospondyli,‭ ‬Archegosauridae,‭ ‬Platyoposaurinae.
Species: P.‭ ‬plummeri‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore/Piscivore.
Size: Most specimens estimated to be about‭ ‬2-2.5‭ ‬meters long.‭ ‬One excpetionally large skull however has a length of about‭ ‬1.6‭ ‬meters,‭ ‬suggesting that this individual had a total body length of about‭ ‬9‭ ‬meters.
Known locations: Brazil‭ ‬-‭ ‬Pedra do Fogo Formation.
Time period: Mid Permian.
Fossil representation: Several individuals,‭ ‬usually of skulls.

       Prionosuchus was a temnospondyl amphibian that lived in South America during the Permian,‭ ‬and one that was surprisingly crocodile-like in appearance with a snout similar to that of a gharial crocodile.‭ ‬Most specimens of Prionosuchus are fairly small at only about two and a half meters in length,‭ ‬but one exceptionally large skull just over one and a half meters in length has yielded a truly terrifying proposition.‭ ‬With a skull this large the total body length achievable for Prionosuchus would have been up to nine meters long,‭ ‬something that not only makes Prionosuchus possibly the largest temnospondyl amphibian known,‭ ‬but also one of the biggest predators of the Permian.
       Most temnospondyl amphibians are perceived to be hunters of aquatic organisms such as fish and other amphibians,‭ ‬and there certainly is‭ ‬no evidence to refute this for‭ ‬Prionosuchus.‭ ‬With the additional possibility of individuals growing to exceptional sizes,‭ ‬then Prionosuchus may well be one of the key apex predators of the Permian.‭ ‬This would mean that larger Prionosuchus would be able to attack and kill almost anything else in the water,‭ ‬even smaller members of their own species.‭ ‬It is‭ ‬also not impossible that they may have attacked land dwelling animals that came to the water to drink in a similar manner as modern day crocodiles,‭ ‬though it should be pointed out that there is no evidence for this.
       A‭ ‬1991‭ ‬paper by C.‭ ‬B.‭ ‬Cox and P.‭ ‬Hutchinson came to the conclusion that Prionosuchus should be synonymised with the genus Platyoposaurus.‭ ‬A result of this study was that the Pedra do Fogo Formation in Brazil where Prionosuchus has been found was credited with being Mid-Late Permian in age.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬later study of the Pedra do Fogo Formation has confirmed that it is actually Middle Permian,‭ ‬and not of the same time as the deposits where Platyoposaurus has been found.‭ ‬Although the suggestion could be made that Platyoposaurus had an exceptionally long temporal range in the fossil record and that Prionosuchus should still be included with it,‭ ‬there is no supporting evidence for this.‭ ‬As a result,‭ ‬most researchers today‭ ‬prefer to keep Prionosuchus separate from Platyoposaurus,‭ ‬especially when the geographic gap between them is also considered.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Um anfibio Labirinthodonte da formacao Pedra de Fogo,‭ ‬Estado do Maranhao‭ ‬-‭ ‬Ministerio da Agricultura,‭ ‬Departamento Nacional da Producao ineral Divisao de Geologia e Mineralogia,‭ ‬Boletim n.‭ ‬124,‭ ‬p.‭ ‬7-32.‭ ‬-‭ ‬L.‭ ‬I.‭ ‬Price‭ ‬-‭ ‬1948.
-‭ ‬Fishes and amphibians from the Late Permian Pedra de Fogo Formation of Northern Brazil.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Palaeontology,‭ ‬34‭(‬3‭)‬:‭ ‬561-573.‭ ‬-‭ ‬C.‭ ‬B.‭ ‬Cox‭ & ‬P.‭ ‬Hutchinson‭ ‬-‭ ‬1991.
-‭ ‬Biological Scaling Problems and Solutions in Amphibians.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology,‭ ‬a019166.‭ ‬-‭ ‬D.‭ ‬L.‭ ‬Levy‭ & ‬R.‭ ‬Heald‭ ‬-‭ ‬2015.



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