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Triassic Amphibian Fossil Gallery

Animalia, Chordata, Vertebrata, Amphibia

(Kingdom, Phylum, Subphylum, Class)

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The large group of animals classified under the order Temnospondyli were some of the first animals to hear high-frequency, air-borne sounds, and a wider range of sounds underwater.  They may have used their hearing in mating calls, like frogs.  At the end of the Permian, this large group of animals was reduced to 5 species.  All of which were aquatic.


The obsolete group name for these animals was Labyrinthodont.  Labyrinth means maze and refers to the shape of these animals teeth.  In cross section a tooth looks like a maze.  This is because the dentine (the inner part of the tooth) and enamel (the hard coating) fold inward multiple times.


Temnospondyl, Metoposauridae

(Order, Family)

Metoposaurus sp.

Common Name: Layrinthodont

Period: Late Triassic

Location: Dockum Group of Texas

Collection: Joe Taylor

Size: ? mm long

Metoposaurs are the last large amphibians of the Triassic Period, and were related to the Permian Eryops.  Lurking in the waterways, they would have resembled huge salamanders.  They had large heads (1/3 the size of their bodies) with huge mouths that acted as sieves to catch fish. Its short legs were not strong enough to drag its bulky body out of the water.  Like other amphibians, Metoposaurus breathed air.  Unlike other amphibians, they had an otic notch, a membrane covered opening behind the eyes to detect sounds. An otic notch is one of the characteristics of early reptiles and mammals.

Notice the heavy solid skull of Metoposaurus.  Unlike dinosaurs, Metoposaurus did not have anteorbital, maxillary, or mandibular fenestrae.  In the water, a solid skull is beneficial because it is buoyant, or floats.


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