This One Ugly Animal Tells The Whole Story Of The Great Dying (ft. Emily Graslie!) | Summary and Q&A

March 24, 2023
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This One Ugly Animal Tells The Whole Story Of The Great Dying (ft. Emily Graslie!)


Lystrosaurus, a pig-like creature, survived and thrived during the End-Permian Extinction, becoming a dominant species in the Early Triassic.

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Key Insights

  • 💝 Lystrosaurus was a significant species during the late Permian and Early Triassic, providing valuable insights into the history of our planet.
  • 👻 The End-Permian Extinction was a global crisis that wiped out a majority of marine and land species but allowed Lystrosaurus to flourish.
  • 💱 Lystrosaurus fossils from different regions reveal variations in their adaptations and responses to changing environments.
  • 👻 The flexibility and adaptability of Lystrosaurus allowed them to survive and thrive during a time of biological crisis.


This is the story of the  time the world almost ended. It’s also the story of a single, humble animal that was determined to go down swinging. Lystrosaurus was a little pig-like  creature, and though the animals themselves couldn’t have ever known it, they helped  us understand our planet’s history better. By looking at their fossils, we can  tell ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Lystrosaurus differ from other creatures of its time?

Lystrosaurus was a plant-eating creature, about the size of a pig or small hippo, and had a waddle-like gait, strong limbs, and a turtle-like beak with two tusks. It was a distant relative of modern mammals and closer to us than dinosaurs.

Q: What made Lystrosaurus a resilient species during the End-Permian Extinction?

Lystrosaurus was a disaster taxon, capable of thriving under harsh conditions and quickly repopulating areas after natural disasters. While most species went extinct, Lystrosaurus fossils actually increased in abundance and proportion, making them a successful survivor.

Q: What caused the End-Permian Extinction, and how did it affect Lystrosaurus?

The End-Permian Extinction was likely caused by massive volcanic eruptions in Northern Pangaea. This led to cascading effects, including rapid climate change, rising temperatures, acidic oceans, and food chain collapse. Despite these challenges, Lystrosaurus managed to survive and adapt.

Q: How did Lystrosaurus evolve in the Early Triassic?

Fossils from the Early Triassic show that Lystrosaurus individuals became smaller in size and had different bone structure compared to their Permian counterparts. They experienced stop-and-start growth patterns, indicating tough times, but some safe havens with stable environments supported their survival and growth.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Lystrosaurus was a pig-like creature that lived during the late Permian period, about 259 to 251 million years ago, when the world was undergoing significant changes.

  • During the End-Permian Extinction, Lystrosaurus was one of the few land vertebrates to survive and quickly repopulate areas after the disaster.

  • Fossils of Lystrosaurus from different regions, such as South Africa and China, provide insights into how they adapted and evolved during this tumultuous time.

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