Science Art: The evolution of the synapsid reptiles, by John C. Germann,1945

Scientific illustration of synapsid reptiles, which are not dinosaurs really, but include things like Dimetrodon, from The Dinosaur Book.

Scientific illustration of synapsid reptiles, which are not dinosaurs really, but include things like Dimetrodon, from The Dinosaur Book.Click to embiggen
These are not dinosaurs – they’re older than that – but they are in The Dinosaur Book, Edwin H. Colbert’s 1945 guide to prehistoric creatures memorialized forever in the Japanese classic Godzilla Raids Again!. It was Ben’s review of that bit of cinema that brought this book onto my radar screen, for which, of course, I am grateful.

I’ve always had a thing for Dimetrodon. Had a shirt from some museum (Natural History Museum in New York, maybe?) that I’d gotten as an elementary schooler which I wore gleefully into my college years.

Unlike dinosaurs, these guys we’re still pretty sure didn’t have feathers. They probably had armor like a crocodile. And that big sail, which might have helped regulate body temperature, or might have just been there to be awesome.

Because it was. And then a few millennia later, they just took them off and never grew them back. Out of fashion, off the evolutionary line.

And then the Permian-Triassic extinction event wiped the slate clean for another few hundred million years, so they never got another chance.

But for a while – glory.