Moschops capensis is a genus of the therapsid order that existed during the Late Permian Period, 255 million years in the past. Therapsid was a proto-mammal which was the dominant terrestrial animal. Moschops was considered as the largest land dwelling animal during the Late Permian Period with massive structure weighing a ton and five meters length. This behemoth was a herbivore and is the prey for other therapsids. Skeletal remains of this plant eating animal were discovered in the Karoo region of South Africa.
During the Late Permian Period, Moschops capensis was the largest terrestrial animal which is 16 feet long. This herbivore was built heavily with jaws fitted with short and chisel-like teeth which were used for cropping plants. The forelimbs of this massive animal was sprawled outwards which is manifested in the modern day lizard, while the limbs behind the animal was formed like those of the mammals which was situated right under its body. The diet of the Moschops is composed mainly of plants but sometimes it also consumes meat.
Distinguished characteristics of the Moschops include having a thick skull, longer front legs compared to the hind limbs and short tail. The thickened skull of this herbivores shows that these animals are competing against one another by butting their heads which is evident nowadays to mountain sheep. A lot of paleontologists agreed that the short tail of the Moschops is used as a balancing aid to the large head of the animal. But unfortunately, this herbivore might be the natural food source for the predatory therapsids like the Lycaenops.
Moschops showed how the process of evolution produces the same types of animals to inhabit same ecological niches. This herbivore is a therapsid or a reptile which have the same characteristics with mammals and is very similar to hadrosaurs and ornithopods such as Maiasaura and Iguanodon. The characteristics that Moschops shared with the later dinosaurs include being thickly set, medium size built and closer to the ground which makes browsing on low vegetation very easy.
The classic and splay footed posture as well as having tinier brain showed the Moschops was a less evolved animal. But during the Triassic Period, the mammal-like reptile family from which Moschops belongs is the origin of those earliest and true mammals that walked the Earth.earliest and true mammals that walked the Earth.
In the popular culture, Moschops was the protagonist on the short-lived television series for kids, with the same title as the name of the reptile back in 1983. The series only ran for 13 episodes with accompanying books. The reason behind the early departure of the television show is not clear, whether the TV show’s producers knew or not that Moschops was technically not a dinosaur. The show also contains disparity when it comes to scientific inaccuracy as the Moschop shares a dwelling with an Allosaurus best friend and Diplodocus grandfather which might confuse children.
Maybe the early departure of the 1983 television show was good as it has not yet faded into an obscurity in the pop culture.