All About Diplocaulus: The Double-Cauled Amphibian

All About the Diplocaulus

Photo: estt via Getty Images

Diplocaulus was a prehistoric amphibian that lived during the Late Carboniferous period, approximately 270 million years ago. It gets its name "double-caul." from its distinctive boomerang-shaped crest on its head, which may have served to reduce drag while swimming. 

Diplocaulus was approximately 0.9 meters long and had a slender body with large eyes and long, thin limbs. It is believed to have been a fast swimmer and fed primarily on fish and other small aquatic animals. Diplocaulus is one of the most well-known prehistoric amphibians due to its bizarre appearance and is often featured in popular media such as books and movies.

This blog post will describe its description and appearance, diet, reproduction, distribution, and habitat. 

Let's get started!

Description and Appearance

All About Diplocaulus

Photo: dottedhippo via Getty Images

Diplocaulus was an early amphibian that lived 270 million years ago during the Permian Era. It was discovered in Texas in 1878 and given its name by Edward Drinker Cope in 1877.

Diplocaulus was an aquatic amphibian that grew up to 3 feet (0.9 meters) long and weighed as much as a cat.

Unlike other reptiles and amphibians at the time, Diplocaulus was fully adapted to a water lifestyle. They had minute legs that were ineffective, a boomerang-shaped head, and a long, thin body. 

Diplocaulus also had a long, robust tail that propelled them through the water and a broad, flat head that may have guided the animal. The eyes and nostrils are positioned on the animal's skull, suggesting it may have lain on the bottom of pools or rivers, hiding, waiting for food to approach.

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All About Diplocaulus


Gage Beasley's Diplocaulus Soft Stuffed Plush Toy


Diplocaulus was a predator and likely fed on small fish and invertebrates. It is thought that Diplocaulus may have been an ambush predator, lying in wait for its prey to swim by before striking. However, other paleontologists believed that Diplocaulus would only use their heads to catch smaller fish. 

They also thought its shape made them unable to catch larger ones like carp or catfish because those types typically live in deeper waters than what this animal's preferred area was located when these theories were put into practice.


Like other Amphibians, the Diplocaulus was oviparous and laid eggs in water. The young hatched from the eggs and completed their development in water.

There is little information about nesting, number of eggs, etc., but one thing for sure is that they used the boomerang-shaped head to attract mates through head-butting!

Distribution & Habitat

Diplocaulus is an extinct genus of amphibians that was endemic to North America during the Late Carboniferous and Early Permian periods. 

The species D. magnicornis is best known for its distinctive boomerang-shaped head. The animal's habitat was in freshwater swamps and marshes, where it probably fed on insects and small invertebrates. 

The first Diplocaulus fossils were discovered in 1878, and since then, numerous specimens have been found in locations such as Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Despite being one of the most well-known prehistoric amphibians, much about Diplocaulus remains a mystery, and there is still much to learn about this fascinating creature.


All About Diplocaulus

Photo: dottedhippo via Getty Images

Diplocaulus is extinct and therefore does not require conservation. 

Though the Diplocaulus is considered a valuable part of our planet's history, efforts are being made to conserve it. The fossils of this fantastic creature are very fragile, so they must be handled with care. 

In addition, scientists are working to create a 3D model of the Diplocaulus, which will help us to understand its anatomy and physiology better. By learning more about this ancient creature, we can help to ensure its survival for future generations.

Other Interesting Facts

  • Diplocaulus lived in what is now North America, and the first Diplocaulus fossils were discovered in 1878.
  • It is believed to have lived during the Permian period - This period is known for the tremendous Permian extinction event, making it around 270 million years old! They existed before the evolution of dinosaurs.
  • Diplocaulus was a carnivore and preyed on fish, amphibians, and small creatures.
  • It had a long, cylindrical body with a flattened head and tail.
  • The Diplocaulus was a predatory amphibian that grew up to be about three feet long and weighed as much as a cat. It was as long as a yardstick.
  • It was a Piscivore and likely fed on small fish and invertebrates 
  • Scientists believe that its head may have been used as a hydrofoil which helped it move through the water quickly.
  • They may have used the flattened tail for steering and braking.
  • They also used the head to keep their predators away since they could struggle with it.

Final Thoughts

Diplocaulus was an interesting amphibian that had a boomerang-shaped head. 

These creatures were well-adapted to their swampy habitats and could even breathe through their skin. 

Although they went extinct around 270 million years ago, we can still learn a lot from them. Their skeletons can be found in museums worldwide, and scientists are working hard to study them and learn more about their ecology and behavior. By understanding these ancient creatures, we can better understand how life on Earth has evolved.

If you have more questions about the Diplocaulus, please leave them in the comments below! I'll do my best to answer them.



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