Prehistoric Planet

“Coal-Age Monsters”: Journey 50 Million Years Before the Dinosaurs

T. rex and velociraptors get all the glory. But millions of years before those awesome theropods ruled the earth, a stranger clan of reptiles and amphibians dominated the planet. Weirdly wonderful creatures like Diploceraspis, the boomerang-headed salamander from the Permian period.

Diploceraspis VR screenshot

Diploceraspis, like it’s evolutionary cousin, Diplocaulus, was a lepospondyl amphibian. They grew to half a meter and a meter in length, respectively—massively larger than most amphibians. But what is more striking about these creatures was their extremely unusual skulls. Shaped like boomerangs, these heads may have been used to glide through the water, or perhaps as a defense mechanism. Or perhaps they were used in mating rituals, clacking and smacking into rival suitors!

Diplocaulus skull
Diplocaulus skull

These fantastic creatures and their kin rose to power in the Carboniferous era, named for the rich coal deposits that come from what were once magnificent forests. Nature was conquering land with plants and animals alike, and the first creepy-crawlies were very interesting experiments indeed.

Diploceraspis and Diplocaulus were not the only unusual animals to thrive during the pre-dinosaur era. We’ll soon highlight more of these fascinating creatures here on SciencePlanet.com.

Coal Age Monsters VR

Want to come face to face with a boomerang-head? Soon we’ll unveil our new virtual reality experience, “Before the Dinosaurs: Coal Age Monsters.”

Learn more about the Science Planet VR collection