Dimetrodon Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Dimetrodon limbatus

Scientific Name:

Two measures of teeth with a black edge

Wild Status:

Permian Period, 295-272 MYA


North America, Germany


Germany, Countries in North America



Life Span:



11 feet long, 3 feet tall at the hips, 400 pounds

Cool Facts:

  • The name Dimetrodon refers to the fact the animal has two distinct sizes of teeth in its jaws. Small, teardrop-shaped teeth could be found in the front of the mouth along with one or two pairs of serrated, blade-like caniniform teeth. Later species had more serrations on their teeth, which suggests that over time the genus evolved to prey on animals larger than it could swallow whole.
  • Dimetrodon is best known for having an enormous sail made up of elongated neural projecting from the animal’s vertebrae. Different species had slightly different shaped sails. Various theories have been proposed for its function, including thermoregulation, sexual display, or acting as a swimming aide.


Despite looking a bit like a lizard, Dimetrodon is not a reptile. It belongs to a group of animals known as synapsids and is more closely related to mammals than it is to reptiles. This group is defined by having only a single skull opening behind the eye, differentiated teeth, and glandular skin. Dimetrodon is also unrelated to dinosaurs and was extinct long before their ancestors had even evolved. There are over a dozen known species of Dimetrodon, with only one from outside of North America. The German species, D. teutonis, was about two feet in length and is the smallest member of the genus. The largest, D. angelensis, was a titan that grew to 15 feet and weighed over 550 pounds.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom - Animalia Phylum - Chordata Class - Sphenacodontia Order - Pelycosauria Family - Sphenacodontidae Genus - Dimetrodon Species - D. limbatus

Conservation & Helping:

The Dimetrodon is currently extinct, and was believed to exist 295 - 272 Million Years Ago

For Teachers and Educators


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