Giant stem tetrapod was apex predator in Gondwanan late Palaeozoic ice age (2024)

Data availability

The authors declare that all the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper and theSupplementary Information. All nomenclatural acts are registered with ZooBank (https://zoobank.org) under the Life Science Identifier urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:62D1B947-D36F-49D2-8490-EAD49C46A22B.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the National Heritage Council and the Geological Survey of Namibia for fieldwork permits and loan of specimens; R. Swart, A. Wanke, F. Abdala and P. October for logistical and field support; S. Mtungata, who found and expertly prepared the type specimen; and G. Lio for the artistic reconstruction of Gaiasia. The 2014, 2015 and 2019 expeditions were supported by National Geographic Society Research Grant 9360-13 and PAST. Research was also possible thanks to the support of the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (Argentina, PICT 2019-01127 to C.A.M.) and the Universidad de Buenos Aires and CONICET (to C.A.M. and L.C.G.). J.D.P. was supported by Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship 473316. This study is contribution R-346 by C.A.M. and L.C.G. to the Instituto de Estudios Andinos Don Pablo Groeber (IDEAN, UBA-CONICET).

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Claudia A. Marsicano, Jason D. Pardo

Authors and Affiliations

  1. Universidad de Buenos Aires, FCEN, Departamento de Cs. Geológicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Claudia A. Marsicano&Leandro C. Gaetano

  2. CONICET-UBA, Instituto de Estudios Andinos (IDEAN), Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Claudia A. Marsicano&Leandro C. Gaetano

  3. Negaunee Integrative Research Center, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL, USA

    Jason D. Pardo

  4. Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Roger M. H. Smith&Leandro C. Gaetano

  5. Department Karoo Palaeontology, Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

    Roger M. H. Smith

  6. Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales (IANIGLA), CCT-Mendoza (CONICET), Mendoza, Argentina

    Adriana C. Mancuso

  7. Geological Survey of Namibia, National Earth Science Museum, Windhoek, Namibia

    Helke Mocke

Authors

  1. Claudia A. Marsicano

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  5. Leandro C. Gaetano

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Contributions

The project was conceived by C.A.M., R.M.H.S. and J.D.P.; phylogenetic analysis was carried out by C.A.M. and J.D.P.; R.M.H.S., C.A.M., A.C.M., L.C.G. and H.M. conducted fieldwork to collect specimens and geological context. C.A.M., J.D.P. and R.M.H.S. wrote the manuscript, with comments from all authors.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Claudia A. Marsicano or Jason D. Pardo.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1 Gaiasia jennyae gen. et sp. nov. (F-1528).

a,b, skull in posterior view. a, Photograph. b, Interpretative drawing. Scale bar, 50 mm. et, excavatio tympanica; exo, exoccipital; occf, occipital artery foramen; op, opisthotic; par, prearticular; psph, parasphenoid; pt, pterygoid; q, quadrate; qj, quadratojugal; sa, surangular;?socc, supraoccipital; X, XII, cranial nerves X and XII, respectively.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Gaiasia jennyae gen. et sp. nov. (F-1528).

a,b, Right lateral view of the posterior part of the skull and anterior vertebrae during preparation of the specimen. a, Photograph. b, Interpretative drawing. c,d, Posterior view of the left side of the skull. c, Photograph. d, Interpretative drawing. Scale bar, 50 mm. exo, exoccipital; Md, mandible; occf, occipital artery foramen; op, opisthotic; psph, parasphenoid; pt, pterygoid; q, quadrate; qj, quadratojugal;?socc, supraoccipital; sq, squamosal; X, XII, cranial nerves X and XII, respectively. Yellow shade, spiracular cleft; red shade, depressor mandibulae; cross-hatching, matrix.

Extended Data Fig. 3 Gaiasia jennyae gen. et sp. nov. (F-1528).

ad, Composite reconstruction of the mandible. a, Dorsal. b, Ventral. c, Labial. d, Lingual. e, f. Photographs of the right hemimandible. e, Ventral view of the posterior half. f, Dorsal view of the symphyseal area. adsym, adsymphysial plate; an, angular; anf, angular fenestra; c1, anterior coronoid; c2, middle coronoid; chf, chordatympanic foramen; d, dentary; par, prearticular; pospl, postsplenial; sa, surangular; spl, splenial. Dotted white circles show the position of the symphysial fangs. Scale bar, 50 mm.

Extended Data Fig. 4 Gaiasia jennyae gen. et sp. nov. (F-1528).

Ventral branchial element in a, Dorsal and b, Ventral views. Anterior to the left. Scale bar, 50 mm.

Extended Data Fig. 5 Gaiasia jennyae gen. et sp. nov. (F-1528).

Articulated axial skeleton. a, Articulated column in right lateral view. Scale bar, 100 mm. b, Detail of the block just behind the star in a. Scale bar, 50 mm. c, Same block as in b in anterior view showing a pleurocentrum. Scale bar, 50 mm. Light green, pleurocentrum; yellow, intercentrum; dark green, neural arch; brown, rib.

Extended Data Fig. 6 Gaiasia jennyae gen. et sp. nov. (F-1528).

ab, Composite reconstruction of the skull. a, Dorsal. b, Ventral. c, Artistic reconstruction of Gaiasia in lateral view; artwork by Gabriel Lio. ect, ectopterygoid; exo, exoccipital; f, frontal; it, intertemporal; j, jugal; l, lacrimal; mx, maxilla; n, nasal; op, opisthotic; p, parietal; pfr, prefrontal; pl, palatine; pmx, premaxilla; po, postorbital; pof, postfrontal; pp, postparietal; psph, parasphenoid; pt, pterygoid; qj, quadratojugal; socc?, supraoccipital; sq, squamosal; st, supratemporal; t, tabular; v, vomer. Scale bar, 50 mm.

Extended Data Fig. 7 Phylogenetic analysis.

a, Unweighted strict-consensus tree. bf, Strict consensus of trees recovered using implying weights49. Implied weights inferred with b, k = 2, c, k = 4, d, k = 6, e, k = 8; f, k = 10.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Fig. 1 (anatomical figure of paratype specimen), Data including Figs. 2–7 (geological setting and taphonomic information, character list and phylogenetic discussion), Tables 1 and 2 and References.

Supplementary Data

The new phylogenetic dataset generated during the current study.

Supplementary Data

Clack et al. 2019 data matrix.

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Giant stem tetrapod was apex predator in Gondwanan late Palaeozoic ice age (1)

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Marsicano, C.A., Pardo, J.D., Smith, R.M.H. et al. Giant stem tetrapod was apex predator in Gondwanan late Palaeozoic ice age. Nature (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-024-07572-0

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Giant stem tetrapod was apex predator in Gondwanan late Palaeozoic ice age (2024)
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