Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
01 Feb 2009
 | 01 Feb 2009

Cannibalism in a small growth stage of the Early Permian branchiosaurid Apateon gracilis (Credner, 1881) from Saxony

F. Witzmann

Abstract. An almost complete specimen of the branchiosaurid temnospondyl Apateon gracilis (Credner, 1881) with a skull length of approximately 7 mm from the Early Permian Döhlen Basin in Saxony is described that possesses a nearly complete conspecific specimen of approximately 4 mm skull length in its digestive tract. This is the first evidence of cannibalistic behaviour in small growth stages of branchiosaurids, whose dentition and hyobranchial morphology suggest adaptations to the capture of small invertebrates and feeding on small phyto- and zooplankton by filtering from the water. Therefore, cannibalism in small branchiosaurids certainly represents an exceptional case, possibly triggered by unfavourable environmental conditions.