Canada's first "dinosaur," which was discovered 170 years ago, has been renamed a Dimetrodon borealis, as opposed to its previous naming, Bathygnathus borealis, according to the press release. Dimetrodons were the top predators in the early years of the Premian era and although they are often mistaken for dinosaurs, they are actually mammal-like reptiles that walk on four legs.
Researchers from the University of Toronto made the finding after they analyzed the original fossil discovered on Prince Edward Island back in 1845 - the finding was thanks to a closer analysis of the "blade-like teeth" that they observed.
"It's really exciting to discovered that the detailed anatomy of the teeth has finally allowed us to identify precisely this important Canadian fossil," said Kirstin Brink, lead author of the study.
The scientists discovered that the eight preserved teeth in the fossil were "ziphodont," which refers to a compressed, serrated and recurved nature, something that was unique to the terrestrial Dimetrodon family at the time.
"These are blade-like teeth with tiny serrations along the front and back of the teeth, similar to a steak knife," said Robert Reisz, senior author of the study. "The roots of these teeth are very long, around double the length of the crowns. This type of tooth is very effective for biting and ripping flesh from prey."
The Dimetrodon went extinct approximately 40 million years before the dinosaurs, giving the finding the potential to help scientists explore the evolutionary history of life in Canada.
"This greatly expands our knowledge of these early relatives of modern mammals, as well as the history of life in Canada," said Hillary Maddin, coauthor of the study. "As the second oldest vertebrate fossil known from Canada, it is an important part of understanding our natural heritage."
In addition to Canada, Dimetrodon fossils have also been discovered in Germany and southwestern locations of the United States.