Permian tetrapods from the Sahara show climate-controlled endemism in Pangaea

Abstract

New fossils from the Upper Permian Moradi Formation of northern Niger1,2,3,4,5,6 provide an insight into the faunas that inhabited low-latitude, xeric environments near the end of the Palaeozoic era ( 251 million years ago). We describe here two new temnospondyl amphibians, the cochleosaurid Nigerpeton ricqlesi gen. et sp. nov. and the stem edopoid Saharastega moradiensis gen. et sp. nov., as relicts of Carboniferous lineages that diverged 40–90 million years earlier7,8,9. Coupled with a scarcity of therapsids, the new finds suggest that faunas from the poorly sampled xeric belt that straddled the Equator during the Permian period10,11,12 differed markedly from well-sampled faunas that dominated tropical-to-temperate zones to the north and south13,14,15. Our results show that long-standing theories of Late Permian faunal homogeneity are probably oversimplified as the result of uneven latitudinal sampling.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: New edopoid temnospondyls from the Moradi Formation.
Figure 2: Phylogenetic position of Nigerpeton ricqlesi and Saharastega moradiensis among basal temnospondyl amphibians based on maximum parsimony analysis.
Figure 3: Palaeogeography12 and palaeoclimatology10,11 of the Late Permian showing the geographical distribution of tetrapod faunas7–9,13–24.

References

  1. 1

    Ministère des Mines et de l'Hydraulique, Direction des Mines et de la Géologie. Afasto, Carte Géologique 1:200,000, Notice Explicative (1977).

  2. 2

    Taquet, P. Un exemple de datation et de corrélation stratigraphique basé sur les Captorhinomorphes (Reptiles cotylosauriens). Mém. Bureau Recherch. Géol. Min. 77, 407–409 (1972)

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    de Ricqlès, A. & Taquet, P. La faune de vertébrés du Permien Supérieur du Niger. I. Le captorhinomorphe Moradisaurus grandis (Reptilia, Cotylosauria). Ann. Paléontol. 68, 33–106 (1982)

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Sidor, C. A., Blackburn, D. C. & Gado, B. The vertebrate fauna of the Upper Permian of Niger. II. Preliminary description of a new pareiasaur. Palaeontol. Afr. 39, 45–52 (2003)

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    O'Keefe, F. R., Sidor, C. A., Larsson, H. C. E., Maga, A. & Ide, O. The vertebrate fauna of the Upper Permian of Niger. III. Ontogeny and morphology of the hindlimb of Moradisaurus grandis (Captorhinidae: Moradisaurinae). J. Vert. Paleontol. (in the press)

  6. 6

    Taquet, P. Géologie et Paléontologie du Gisement de Gadoufaoua (Aptien du Niger) 1–191 (Cahiers de Paléontologie, Paris, 1976)

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Sequeira, S. E. K. The skull of Cochleosaurus bohemicus, a temnospondyl from the Czech Republic (Upper Carboniferous) and cochleosaurid interrelationships. Trans. R. Soc. Edinb. Earth Sci. 94, 21–43 (2004)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Milner, A. R. & Sequeira, S. E. K. A cochleosaurid temnospondyl amphibian from the Middle Pennsylvanian of Linton, Ohio, U.S.A. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 122, 261–290 (1998)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Milner, A. R. in Palaeozoic vertebrate biostratigraphy and biogeography (ed. Long, J. A.) 324–353 (Belhaven, London, 1993)

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Gibbs, M. T. et al. Simulations of Permian climate and comparisons with climate-sensitive sediments. J. Geol. 110, 33–55 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Rees, P. M. et al. Permian phytogeographic patterns and climate data/model comparisons. J. Geol. 110, 1–31 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Ziegler, A. M., Hulver, M. L. & Rowley, D. B. in Late Glacial and Postglacial Environmental Changes (ed. Martini, I. P.) 111–146 (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1997)

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Rubidge, B. S. & Sidor, C. A. Evolutionary patterns among Permo–Triassic therapsids. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 32, 449–480 (2001)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Battail, B. A comparison of Late Permian Gondwanan and Laurasian amniote faunas. J. Afr. Earth Sci. 31, 165–174 (2000)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Modesto, S. P. & Rybczynski, N. in The Age of Dinosaurs in Russia and Mongolia (eds Benton, M. J., Shishkin, M. A., Unwin, D. M. & Kurochkin, E. N.) 17–34 (Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, 2000)

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Bakker, R. T. Anatomical and ecological evidence of endothermy in dinosaurs. Nature 238, 81–85 (1972)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Damiani, R. J. A systematic revision and phylogenetic analysis of Triassic mastodonsauroids (Temnospondyli: Stereospondyli). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 133, 379–482 (2001)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Yates, A. M. & Warren, A. A. The phylogeny of the ‘higher’ temnospondyls (Vertebrate: Choanata) and its implications for the monophyly and origins of the Stereospondyli. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 128, 77–121 (2000)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Schoch, R. R. & Milner, A. R. in Encyclopedia of Paleoherpetology (ed. Wellnhofer, P.) Part 3B, 1–203 (Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munich, 2000)

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Dias, E. V. & Barberena, M. C. A temnospondyl amphibian from the Rio do Rasto Formation, Upper Permian of southern Brazil. An. Acad. Bras. Cienc. 73, 135–143 (2001)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Marsicano, C. A. & Warren, A. A. The first Palaeozoic rhytidosteid record: Trucheosaurus major Watson, 1956 from the Late Permian of Australia, and a reassessment of the Rhytodosteidae (Amphibia: Temnospondyli). Bull. Brit. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Geol.) 54, 147–154 (1998)

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Angielczyk, K. D. & Kurkin, A. A. Phylogenetic analysis of Russian Permian dicynodonts (Therapsida: Anomodontia): implications for Permian biostratigraphy and Pangaean biogeography. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 139, 157–212 (2003)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Lucas, S. G. in Carboniferous and Permian of the World (eds Hills, L. V., Henderson, C. M. & Bamber, E. W.) 479–491 (Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists Memoir 19, Calgary, Alberta, 2002)

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Jalil, N.-E. Continental Permian and Triassic vertebrate localities from Algeria and Morocco and their stratigraphical correlations. J. Afr. Earth Sci. 29, 219–226 (1999)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank A. Beck, D. Blackburn, J. Conrad, A. Dindine, E. Duneman, B. Gado, T. Lyman, G. Lyon, R. Sadlier and G. Wilson for assistance in the field; A. Crean, E. Love, V. Heisey and J. Groenke for fossil preparation; and S. Spilkevitz for help with Fig. 3. We thank H. Salissou of the Ministère des Enseignements Secondaire et Supérieur, de la Recherche et de la Technologie for permission to conduct fieldwork. We acknowledge the National Geographic Society for support.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christian A. Sidor.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Data

This file contains the list of characters used in the cladistic analysis of temnospondyl relationships, and the corresponding character-taxon data matrix. (DOC 31 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sidor, C., O'Keefe, F., Damiani, R. et al. Permian tetrapods from the Sahara show climate-controlled endemism in Pangaea. Nature 434, 886–889 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03393

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing