We describe the edopoid temnospondyl Nigerpeton ricqlesi from the Upper Permian Moradi Formation of northern Niger on the basis of two partial skulls and tentatively associated postcranial material. This crocodile-like taxon displays several edopoid characters states such as a long prenarial region with enlarged premaxillae, elongated vomers, large, posteriorly tapering choanae, and a jugal that broadens anteriorly. Nigerpeton possesses a unique carnivorous dentition. It is autapomorphic in its possession of an extremely elongate snout bearing a maxillary bulge that accommodates three hypertrophied caniniform teeth, inner premaxillary tusks, and anterior paired fenestrae, which pierce the skull roof. In addition, both the maxilla and dentary tooth rows show the sporadic appearance of ‘doubled’ tooth positions. The lateral-line system is present at the adult stage, which suggests an aquatic habitat for this taxon. A phylogenetic analysis of Edopoidea and its relatives places Nigerpeton as the sister taxon to the Permo-Carboniferous genus Chenoprosopus from the U.S.A. As with other members of the Moradi tetrapod fauna, the discovery of Nigerpeton strengthens support for the hypothesis that West Africa hosted an endemic fauna at the close of the Paleozoic Era. Biogeographically, we propose that Late Carboniferous and Permian edopoids were geographically widespread and that they twice crossed the Central Pangean mountain chain (between Laurussia and Gondwana) during their evolution. This distribution was later fragmented with the onset of Late Permian climatic warming.
Steyer, J.S., R. Damiani, C.A. Sidor, F.R. O’Keefe, H.C.E. Larsson, A. Maga, and O. Ide. 2006. The vertebrate fauna of the Upper Permian of Niger— IV. Nigerpeton ricqlesi (Temnospondyli: Cochleosauridae), and the edopoid colonization of Gondwana. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26(1): 18-28