Scientific Name: Sclerocephalus hauseri, Amphibian Skeleton
Age: 280 MYA, Permian
SCALE IS 1 METER
Sclerocephalus is an extinct genus of temnospondyl amphibian from the lowermost Permian of Germany with four valid species, including the type species S. haeuseri. It is one of the most completely preserved and most abundant Palaeozoic tetrapods. Sclerocephalus was once thought to be closely related to eryopoid temnospondyls, but it is now thought to be more closely related to archegosauroids. It is the only genus in the family Sclerocephalidae.
The adults animals reached a body length of 150 cm, and had an elongate trunk and a laterally compressed tail. In some specimens lateral line sulci are retained. These body features suggest an aquatic mode of life, with aquatic larvae that probably breathed with external gills like modern tadpoles, while the adults breathed with lungs. Sclerocephalus underwent significant changes during its ontogeny, for example the eyes are much larger and the tail much longer in larvae than in adults.
Sclerocephalus was often classified within the deprecated paraphyletic taxa Stegocephalia and Labyrinthodontia, because of a skull that was connected to the shoulder girdle and teeth of labyrinthodont type. The skull had a distinct pineal foramen. Besides the usual row of teeth in the upper and lower jaw, Sclerocephalus also had three additional pairs of palatine teeth. From specimens with fossilized stomach content we know the adults mainly fed on fish of the genus Paramblypterus, but sometimes also on other amphibians (Branchiosaurus, Micromelerpeton) and even small conspecifics.
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