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Wolf-Face of the Permian

Bit of an experiment with one of my favorite non-mammalian synapsids, Lycaenops (to be precise, this portrait is of Lycaenops angusticeps). Recently there has been a trend of moving away from the old (rather unrealistic) shrinkwrapped and lizardy restorations of Permian synapsids, and it's resulted in some restorations with more or less eutherian features. I tried to do something a bit different, keeping to what seems to make sense within what is known, while at the same time engaging in a bit of speculation.

We know fur had evolved in the Permian, but we don't know the specifics yet. Gorgonopsids like Lycaenops didn't show signs of having evolved whiskers yet, but that doesn't necessarily mean they weren't hairy. If whiskers evolved from specialized hair (rather than hair evolving from generalized whiskers, I guess) they may have appeared only in those therapsids that had the most use for them, the nocturnal and crepuscular small predators and insectivores hunting close to the ground or in close spaces. Some modern mammal groups like monotremes and xenarthrans don't seem to have them at all, and in fact have fairly hariless snouts. Perhaps that was a common thing in early therapsids as well? Hopefully we will know one day.
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© 2017 - 2021 Osmatar
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I want to pet this animal....
tranh666's avatar
There's something "uncanny valley" about the way it looks like a mammal yet suspiciously non-mammalian... can't be sure whether it will lick you or bite you with venom.
Zanizaila's avatar

Now this I love!

We don’t know how hairy they were, we don’t know when pinnae evolved (do we? I’m out of the loop), but it makes NO sense to have such a thick, extended lower jaw, for those saber teeth to be out in the open. Neatly tucked into the lower lip, this looks like a real animal.

Completely unlike that Primeval Gorgonops... *shivers*

Shared to my blog, ^_^
Batterymaster's avatar
Nice! I love myself a hairy therapsid. Hell, if done right, hair can look good on any therapsid, even Moschops.
extrachromosome1997's avatar
i wish this creature still existed so i could pet his snooter
Axel-Astro-Art's avatar
It looks nice, neither fully mammal nor reptilian. Those lips certainly look mammalian, but not quite. They don't seem able to suck or snarl and something in them reminds me of lizard lips. Their simplicity and thinness, I guess. 

I think the main challenge with the reconstruction of basal mammals is that there's nothing like them now. We have only scaly sauropsids and highly-derived mammalian synapsids to compare them to. 
Most reconstructions look like skinned mammals. The most baffling thing is how many artists treat the temporal fenestra as if it were a simple hole or depression in the skull. It's so weird to see the animals with holes where thick and hard muscle should be attached. 
Adik009's avatar
I'm called lycaenops wolf-face
Osmatar's avatar
Only if you can reach back through time to the Late Permian.
Philoceratops's avatar
Noice gorgonopsid! Love to see more of these reconstructions.
Osmatar's avatar
PeteriDish's avatar
so happy to see fur on these guys! finally the furrening is happening! was about time! :D
Osmatar's avatar
Thanks! :) I really hope we eventually get something like Liaoning for the mid to late Permian. I'd love to know how far down hair goes in the synapsid family tree.
PeteriDish's avatar
Inmyarmsinmyarms's avatar
Also no rhinarium.

I wonder when it did evolve. There's a recent study on the evolution of nasal anatomy across synapsids (non-therian mammals included), yet nothing relating specifically to the rhinarium.
Osmatar's avatar
From what I've read, there are some conflicting views on the subject. It seems that there is a strong case for it having evolved in probainognathians, together with mobile mammalian lips and whiskers.
Inmyarmsinmyarms's avatar

I once entertained the possibility that it evolved in Theriiformes, but I discarded that because the monotreme beak seems like an extended rhinarium to me.
Osmatar's avatar
Yeah, it seems like it's a pretty basal feature in cynodontia.
Stolpergeist's avatar
A smile for the ages
Kazuma27's avatar
Really good, nice to see these guys being restored in a more natural way... The only thing i still don't understand is why nobody (as far as i know) give 'em a pair of external ears. Is there some evidence therapsid had yet to evolve pinnae or it's just an artistic convention?
Osmatar's avatar
Actually yes, the evidence suggests that ear canals and external ears didn't appear until much later, in cynognathians. It's possible that gorgonopsids did have a tympanum like sauropsids do. I sort of hid it in this restoration posterior to the angular, but it's not really even visible due to the hair.
Kazuma27's avatar
Ah, didn't know that, interesting :)
rhunevild's avatar
I saw this on the Paleoartists FB group and loved it! I especially like the lip area and how the fur transitions. Awesome work!
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