Placodonts, meaning "flat teeth," were a family of reptiles which lived across the globe and only survived during the Triassic. They were not giants like so many others; the largest species grew to 3m (10ft) long. They were not superpredators, nor were they diminuitive prey items. In fact, at first glance, there doesn't appear to be anything too exciting about them. But to see what makes placodonts so special, we need to look in their mouths.
|The placodont Placodus, a bizarre chimera of marine iguana and sea otter. Reconstruction by Dan Varner.|
|The basal placodontiform Palatodonta bleekeri. Reconstruction by Jaime Chirinos.|
|The "mock-turtle" Henodus. Despite all similarities, it was a placodont, not even closely related to true turtles. Reconstruction by Jim Robbins.|
|Another mock-turtle, Psephoderma, and a nothosaurid. Illustration by Kahless28 on deviantArt.|
James M. Neenan, Nicole Klein, Torsten M. Scheyer. 2013. European origin of placodont marine
reptiles and the evolution of crushing dentition in Placodontia. Nature Communications. March 27, 2013. doi:10.1038/ncomms2633