Diadectidae - Paleobiology - Diet


Diadectids were the first fully herbivorous tetrapods. Although several other groups of early tetrapods independently acquired herbivory, diadectids were the only Carboniferous tetrapods that were able to process high-fiber terrestrial plants. Diadectids were also the most diverse group of herbivores, representing the first radiation of plant-eating tetrapods. Both Cope and Marsh recognized that diadectids were herbivores in 1878 when they studied their distinctively broad, cusped teeth. In his description of Diadectes, Cope mentioned, "animals belonging to this genus were, in all probability, herbivorous."

Diadectids underwent an evolutionary radiation, diversifying into thirteen species in the Late Carboniferous and Early Permian, outnumbering other diadectomorphs such as the limnoscelids. This radiation was likely the result of diadectids' expansion into a new herbivorous ecological niche that was previously unfilled. While the distribution of limnoscelids is limited to parts of North America and Tseajaia is restricted to only the southwestern United States, diadectids are present in Europe and much of North America, occupying a much wider geographic range than other diadectids.

Read more about this topic:  Diadectidae, Paleobiology

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