Branchiosaurus

Branchiosaurus

Branchiosaurus (Greek for “gill lizard”) is a genus of small, lightly built early prehistoric amphibians. Fossils have been discovered in strata dating from the late Pennsylvanian Epoch to the Permian Period.This tiny amphibian was very similar to the others differing primarily in size. Other distinguishing characteristics include a cartilaginous, less ossified skeleton and a shorter skull.

Clear traces of gills are present in many fossilized samples, hence the name. Later analysis of growth stages showed increasing ossification in larger specimens, which showed that at least some of the species were the larval stage of much larger Branchiosuarus like Eryops, while others represent paedomorphic species which retained the larval gills in adulthood. Distribution is uncertain, though available fossils come from central Europe, most famous of which are the Permian Niederkirchen Beds around Pfalz, Germany.