Eryops (meaning: drawn-out face) because mainly of its skull was in front of its eyes, is a species of extinct, semi-aquatic amphibian. The primary genus of Eryops has been named Eryops megacephalus (large head).

Eryops was a common, prehistoric amphibian that lived in swamps during the Permian age, long before dinosaurs evolved. It was a carnivore and a fierce predator on ground and in the water and may have eaten regularly fish, little reptiles and amphibians. A big supply of terrestrial invertebrates were also plentiful at the time, and this may have provided a moderately adequate food supply in itself. The amphibian would clutch its prey and, lacking any chewing mechanism, toss its head up and backwards, throwing the prey farther back into its mouth. Such feeding is seen nowadays in the crocodile and alligator.

Eryops’ eye sockets were big and directed upward. The body was low to the earth and supported by short, massive limbs. The tail was short, suggesting the animal was not a speedy or powerful swimmer. The flat skull with the big eyes and nostrils placed on the top of the head are suggestive that Eryops used furtiveness for hunting, much like a modern crocodile, and sat quietly in the water waiting for quarry with only its eyes and nostrils observable above the water.

It had a fat body with very wide ribs, a strong spine, four short, burly legs, a short tail and a wide, elongated skull with various sharp teeth in large, strong jaws. Its teeth had enamel with a folded mold. Eryops was about 5 feet (1.5 metres) long, one of the biggest land animals of its time. It weighed about 200lbs. The skull of Eryops is proportionately big, being wide and flat and reaching lengths of 2 feet (60 cm).

Eryops was one of the biggest land animals of its time, but the faster-moving Dimetrodon may have preyed upon it on ground. The prehistoric shark Orthacanthus may have hunted it in the water.

Their body weight was not middle over the limbs, but was transferred 90 degrees outward and down through the inferior limbs, which contacted the ground. Most of the animal's strength was used to just raise its body off the ground for walking, which was almost certainly slow and difficult. With this sort of posture, only petite, broad strides could be achieved. This has been inveterate by fossilized footprints found in Carboniferous rocks.


Eryops is an example of an animal that made victorious adaptations in the movement from a water surroundings to a terrestrial one. It retained, and refined, the majority of the traits found in its fish ancestors. Sturdy limbs supported and transported its body while beyond water. A thicker, stronger spine prevented its body from sagging under its own weight. Also, by utilizing vestigial fish jaw skeleton, a rudimentary ear was developed, allowing Eryops to hear airborne noise.

Eryops fossils have been established in Texas, USA, North America. In 1887 Eryops was named by E. D. Cope

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Amphibia

Order: Temnospondyli

Suborder: Euskelia

Superfamily: Eryopoidea

Family: Eryopidae

Genus: Eryops

Species: E. megacephalus