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A new Mississippian tetrapod from Fife, Scotland, and its environmental context

A new Mississippian tetrapod from Fife, Scotland, and its environmental context
A new Mississippian tetrapod from Fife, Scotland, and its environmental context
The Visean stage of the Mississippian was a time of rapid tetrapod diversification which marks the earliest appearance of temnospondyls, microsaurs and the limbless aïstopods. Tetrapod finds from this stage are very rare and only a dozen sites are known worldwide. Here we announce the discovery of a new Visean site in Fife, Scotland, of Asbian age, and from it describe a new species of the baphetoid Spathicephalus. These specimens represent the oldest known baphetoid by three million years, yet belong to the most specialized members of the clade. Unlike typical baphetoids with large marginal teeth and palatal fangs characteristic of early tetrapods, spathicephalids had very broad flattened heads with a dentition consisting of a large number of small, uniform teeth. Spathicephalids were probably one of the earliest tetrapod groups to use suction feeding on small, aquatic prey. Palynological and sedimentological analysis indicates that the new fossil bed was deposited in a large, stratified, freshwater lake that became increasingly saline.
2056-2802
547-557
Smithson, Timothy R.
1f34d9ca-d0ee-44d7-876e-b167fef8e811
Browne, Michael A. E.
478437e6-837f-498d-876c-3566192b39a6
Davies, Sarah J
9c08e102-7013-4ee4-9076-565ad12235cc
Marshall, John E. A.
cba178e3-91aa-49a2-b2ce-4b8d9d870b06
Millward, David
c438e99d-66d1-46c9-8caa-00967348c49a
Walsh, Stig A.
2824236c-393c-4690-8e78-24edf437655a
Clack, Jennifer A.
0210709c-82fb-46f9-934e-58c31bc644a1
Smithson, Timothy R.
1f34d9ca-d0ee-44d7-876e-b167fef8e811
Browne, Michael A. E.
478437e6-837f-498d-876c-3566192b39a6
Davies, Sarah J
9c08e102-7013-4ee4-9076-565ad12235cc
Marshall, John E. A.
cba178e3-91aa-49a2-b2ce-4b8d9d870b06
Millward, David
c438e99d-66d1-46c9-8caa-00967348c49a
Walsh, Stig A.
2824236c-393c-4690-8e78-24edf437655a
Clack, Jennifer A.
0210709c-82fb-46f9-934e-58c31bc644a1

Smithson, Timothy R., Browne, Michael A. E., Davies, Sarah J, Marshall, John E. A., Millward, David, Walsh, Stig A. and Clack, Jennifer A. (2017) A new Mississippian tetrapod from Fife, Scotland, and its environmental context. Papers in Palaeontology, 3 (4), 547-557. (doi:10.1002/spp2.2017.3.issue-4).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Visean stage of the Mississippian was a time of rapid tetrapod diversification which marks the earliest appearance of temnospondyls, microsaurs and the limbless aïstopods. Tetrapod finds from this stage are very rare and only a dozen sites are known worldwide. Here we announce the discovery of a new Visean site in Fife, Scotland, of Asbian age, and from it describe a new species of the baphetoid Spathicephalus. These specimens represent the oldest known baphetoid by three million years, yet belong to the most specialized members of the clade. Unlike typical baphetoids with large marginal teeth and palatal fangs characteristic of early tetrapods, spathicephalids had very broad flattened heads with a dentition consisting of a large number of small, uniform teeth. Spathicephalids were probably one of the earliest tetrapod groups to use suction feeding on small, aquatic prey. Palynological and sedimentological analysis indicates that the new fossil bed was deposited in a large, stratified, freshwater lake that became increasingly saline.

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Accepted/In Press date: 26 June 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 29 August 2017
Published date: 1 November 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 415847
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/415847
ISSN: 2056-2802
PURE UUID: 36830880-f265-4f0e-b442-bcc013e59cae
ORCID for John E. A. Marshall: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9242-3646

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Date deposited: 27 Nov 2017 17:30
Last modified: 11 Mar 2022 02:32

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Contributors

Author: Timothy R. Smithson
Author: Michael A. E. Browne
Author: Sarah J Davies
Author: David Millward
Author: Stig A. Walsh
Author: Jennifer A. Clack

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