Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

A Tetrapod Fauna of the Sydney Basin, Permian

The first documented evidence of a tetrapod fauna of Permian age in Australia was the discovery in 1997 by Bruce Ross of Oceanic Coal Australia Ltd in the roof of the Borehole Seam, West Wallsend Colliery. The Borehole Seam (Newcastle Coal Measures, Lambton Subgroup) is situated immediately above the Waratah Sandstone which forms the base of the Newcastle Coal Measures and is believed to be most likely of Kazanian age. It has been shown by preliminary study that of the 5 tetrapod specimens recovered at least temnospondyl amphibians are represented. Previously, the only known tetrapod body fossil from the Permian of Australia is a temnospondyl amphibian, Bothriceps major, recovered from Airly to the northwest of Sydney. Trace fossils of tetrapods have been known for some time in the southern part of the Sydney Basin, several sets of reptilian footprints being found in the Illawarra Coal Measures. This indicates that in the Late Permian there were tetrapods inhabiting areas to the north, south and west of the Sydney Basin, Australia.


There are widespread body fossils of tetrapods in the Sydney Basin from the Late Permian in the north and west and trackways in the southeast, with amphibians and early amniotes being represented, though with the exception of the temnospondyl from Airly none of the material is further identifiable. This new material recovered from the West Wallsend Colliery constitutes the second oldest Permian vertebrate record from Australia.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Warren, Anne, 1997, A tetrapod fauna from the Permian of the Sydney Basin.Records of the Australian Museum 49(1): 2533. [4 July 1997].doi:10.3853/j.0067-1975.49.1997.297 ISSN 0067-1975, Published by the Australian Museum, Sydney


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated  08/09/2014 
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