republic of niger

Amphibian August #14 – Nigerpeton

One of the last surviving members of the basal edopoid group of temnospondyls, Nigerpeton lived during the Late Permian of the Republic of Niger (~254-252 mya). Mainly known from a single skull, and a few other fragmentary remains, it may have grown up to 2.5m long (8′2″).

Although most edopoids were terrestrial, Nigerpeton and its closest relatives – the long-snouted crocodile-like cochleosaurids – seem to have returned to a much more aquatic lifestyle. Nigerpeton is also the only member of this group to show evidence of a well-developed lateral line system, which would have helped it navigate and detect the movement of prey in murky water.

It had a particularly large pair of fangs at the tip of its lower jaw – so huge, in fact, that it needed special holes in its skull for these fangs to fit though so it could actually close its mouth. The purpose of such an odd tooth setup is unclear, but since similar arrangements have been found in several other groups of temnospondyls they must have been useful for something.

Most reconstructions show the fangs just sticking out of the snout completely uncovered, but I’ve given them some fleshy “pockets” here to protect them.