Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island

artist's drawing of a Dimetrodon
Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - 9:09am

Nothing brings on the holidays like a blood-thirsty extinct Dimetrodon in Canada … or is it! Recent PhD graduate Dr. Kirstin Brink published “Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island” in Can. J. Earth Sci.. This paper redescribes an historic Canadian fossil collected in 1845 on PEI, Bathygnathus borealis. Although originally thought to be a dinosaur, the fossil is actually a sphenacodontid, which is on the lineage leading towards mammals. Using CT scan data and new phylogenetic analyses, this study suggests that the fossil from PEI is in fact a species of Dimetrodon. However, according to the rules of the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) the name Bathygnathus has name priority over Dimetrodon, so a request is being made to the ICZN to reverse priority and maintain the name Dimetrodon. This represents the first known occurrence of Dimetrodon in Canada. Does life get any better than this? Well possibly, but this is still pretty cool!