The Skeleton of Inostrancevia


The Inostrancevia lived in an age called the Permian. Now that ended about 250 million years ago, at what they call a mass extinction. Now this was before the age of dinosaurs, and the mass extinction of animals like this, the gorgons, enabled the dinosaurs to actually evolve. This particular one is in a group called the gorgons. Now what makes the gorgons interesting is that they were the top predators of the time, which meant they were like the T.rexs of the time, which is why these fossils of these animals are quite rare, because you don’t get as many top predators around as you do prey animals.

This skeleton of Inostrancevia is the most complete one available. They’re very rare and so what we’ve done is had a plastic duplicate, a cast made of it and we’re modifying it, altering it, customising if you like, to reflect new ideas on how these animals, what these animals were like.

New evidence suggests that these animals could also have a high posture, a high gait, like a running crocodile. In other words instead of having them a full sprawl, we’re mounting it, the upper arm and the upper leg, at about a 45 degree angle, with the lower arm and the lower leg vertical below that. So it’s a semi-erect animal, because this is evolving into the group of modern mammals.

We can’t be completely certain that all our facts are right, but you can tell a lot from a skeleton of an animal. You can tell where the joints and the balls and the sockets fit, and that way you can tell the range of movement of each of those parts of the skeleton, and so you can tell the direction in which they swing. So you can get a pretty good idea of just what that body is doing and how it moves. The trouble is that you very rarely get a perfect, complete skeleton. These things are buried under tons of sort of rock and they get distorted, they get broken, bits are missing, and that’s when you have to interpret it a bit, try and have an educated guess of the bit that’s missing.

About this Video

Museum Victoria’s Dave Pickering talks about the skeleton of Inostrancevia.
Length: 02:36

Internal Resources