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The mandible of the primitive tetrapod Greererpeton, and the early evolution of the tetrapod lower jaw

  • John R. Bolt (a1) and R. Eric Lombard (a2)


Exceptionally well-preserved Late Mississippian colosteid amphibian specimens occur in southern Illinois; the mandible is described here. Unexpectedly primitive features include toothed adsymphysial and intercoronoid fossa with fenestrate floor. The large adsymphysial bears teeth, forms 50 percent of the symphysis, and meets its antimere in a very coarsely rugose suture. These and other characters are shown to occur also in Greererpeton burkemorani, to which we refer the Illinois specimens. Colosteid mandibles from a Late Mississippian locality in southern Iowa resemble G. burkemorani closely, although they are not conspecific. Our findings are summarized in a PRESERVE-format data table containing 226 characters. G. burkemorani's adsymphysial suture morphology is shared with the baphetid Megalocephalus pachycephalus. However, the relationship of colosteids to other Paleozoic amphibian groups remains unclear, beyond their position as stem tetrapods. The single elongate Meckelian fenestra of colosteids is likely primitive for tetrapods. A three-stage model is proposed for the evolution of Meckelian fenestrae in tetrapods. Based on sutural morphology, G. burkemorani is considered to have a kinetic joint between skull table and cheek. A functional hypothesis is outlined in which movements at this joint are accommodated at the symphysis. A phylogenetically based test of this hypothesis is proposed.



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The mandible of the primitive tetrapod Greererpeton, and the early evolution of the tetrapod lower jaw

  • John R. Bolt (a1) and R. Eric Lombard (a2)


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