August 29, 2011

A Thrinaxodon Encounter

Whenever possible, I love to get out of my basement office and spend time in the Burke’s galleries. There are so many different things to see, and my curiosity still gets sparked from time to time.  A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Burke lobby for our monthly Free First Thursday and talked with some of our docents about this interesting little creature.

This is a skull cast of Thrinaxodon liorhinus, a mammal-like reptile from the early Triassic (about 245 million years ago). Believed to be a “missing link” to mammals, this Therapsid was about the size of a cat. It was warm-blooded and had whiskers (if you look closely in the photo below, you can see holes in the skull where they would grow).  Scientists also believe it had fur.

Although Thrinaxodons had mammal-like features and kind of resembles a beefed-up weasel, it also laid eggs and had scales. 

So there you have it, another fascinating encounter with natural history. On the first Thursday of every month the Burke Museum is open until 8 pm and there are extra activities with Burke docents all day. If you come this Thursday, September 1st, you can see the Wolves and Wild Lands in the 21st Century exhibits before it closes on Labor Day, and perhaps you’ll have a Thrinaxodon moment too.

Posted By: Andrea Barber, Communications