Mississippian Epoch
Carboniferous Period
Serpukhovian Age

The Serpukhovian Age
(=Upper Mississippian Epoch)

The Serpukhovian Age of the Mississippian Epoch: 328 to 318 million years ago


The Serpukhovian is the last of the three ages that make up the Mississippian Epoch. This is the Age from which come the remarkable tetrapods of East Kirkton and the Dora Bone Beds, as well as the wonderful chondrichthyan fauna of Bear Creek. This Age saw the appearance and rapid diversification of of winged insects, "typical" Paleozoic tetrapods, proto-amniotes, and the great Coal Swamp forests.

Sea levels were moderate throughout the Carboniferous. The seas rose steadily through most of the Sepukhovian, but fell rather sharply at the end of the Age, coincident with the onset of icehouse conditions and the beginnings of the Pennsylvanian Ice Age. Grossman et al. (2002); Mii et al. (2001). At about this same time, the connection between the Rheic and Paleotethys Oceans closed as Gondwana met and sutured to Laurussia (North America plus Baltica) to form Pangaea. This resulted in partial thermal isolation of the Paleotethys, which became a great semi-tropical bay. The climate, which had been fairly equable throughout most of the Mississippian, became more strongly zonal. Interestingly, these dramatic climate changes in the Late Serpukhovian occurred at just about the same time as the major evolutionary events of the Age: the sudden spread of winged insects, the evolution of protoamniotes (e.g., Embolomeri), and a rapid turnover in brachiopod genera.

ATW041224. Public domain. No rights reserved.

Serpukhovian Geography

ATW041219. Map public domain. No rights reserved. An enormous, 2400 x 1200 pixel, unlabelled version of this map is available (free) in all the usual formats, including a Photoshop® *.psd file with each topographical type on a different layer. That one is 13 MB.  Email augwhite@sbcglobal.net.


The following table correlates strata with tetrapod fossils (amphibians):

    approx  time *
N o 
r t h 
   A m e r 
i c a Western Europe
(present geography)
 Age   Utah Iowa West Virginia  Nova Scotia Scotland
Midland Valley
  Alportian 324        
Serpukhovian Chokierian  326 
  Arnsbergian 330          
  Pendleian 332 Manning Canyon Shale     Dora Bone Bed, Crowdenbeath, Fife
* approximate time in MYA (millions of years ago) - in two million year intervals

Important Fossil Sites

Falcatus falcatus - Bear Gulch limestone of Montana
The small shark Falcatus falcatus, from the Bear Gulch limestone of Montana. Photo by H. Zell - Wikipedia

The Dora lagerstätten of East Kirkton, Scotland (late Visean or possibly Earliest Serpukhovian), stands out as a unique glimpse of Middle Carboniferous vertebrates. The somewhat later Bear Gulch locality in Montana (Late Serpukhovian or possibly Bashkirian) provides an important glimpse of Carboniferous fish life.


The Blastoid echinoderm Pentremites godoni

Goniatites suffer a mass extinction but a few lineages continue onto the following Bashkirian epoch.



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page by M. Alan Kazlev 1998-2002
page uploaded 24 June 2002
checked ATW050927, edited RFVS121030
(original uploaded on Kheper Site 1 June 1998)
this material (when it is up) may be freely used for non-commercial purposes