The therapsids include all mammals plus the many mammal-like reptiles, such as Dicynodon and the sabre-toothed gorgonopsids. The therapsids rose to prominence in the Permian to become the most successful land animals of their day. The secret of their success was in their teeth, as therapsids evolved new and better methods of chewing plant and animal food. However, the group took a hammering in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian, and was sidelined for millions of years as the dinosaurs diversified. The therapsids' ultimate successors - mammals - now rule the Earth courtesy of those efficient therapsid teeth and jaws.
Scientific name: Therapsida
South Africa's lifeless Karoo Basin was once an oasis for strange, forgotten creatures.
Almost 300 million years ago, South Africa's barren Karoo Basin was an oasis for strange and forgotten creatures. It was a stable world until a cataclysmic event caused almost every living thing to die. This programme was first shown in 2002.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.