Lopingian Epoch
Permian Period

The Changhsingian Age

The Changhsingian Age of the Lopingian Epoch: 251 to 254 million years ago

Also spelt Changxingian.

this page is still under construction....

  Late Permian fauna

Representative animals from the Daptocephalus/Dicynodon assemblage zone of Gondwana (South Africa)
included here is a are large temnospondyl of the rhinesuchid family, a small advanced procynosuchid Therapsid, an ox-sided herbivorous Pareiasaur, a small diapsid lizard (Paliguana), a large herbivorous Dicynodont, and a Gorgonopsian therapsid, which was very much the top predator of this environment
Illustration by Dr Bob Bakker
Reconstructed food web
Reconstructed food web for the terrestrial and aquatic components of the Vyatkian Community (Kutulukskaya and Kulchumovskaya svitas; Late Tatarian) of the SE of European Russia. Lines with arrows indicate the movement of energy through the community: solid lines show feeding pathways, and dashed lines show decay pathways. Aquatic components: (1) aquatic plants, (2) invertebrates, taxa whose role in terrestrial food chains is insignificant. Amphibious components: taxa which play a significant role in both aquatic and terrestrial food chains. Terrestrial components: (3) plants, (4) invertebrates, taxa which play a role in terrestrial food chains; (5) plant and animal detritus; (6) palaeonisciform, (7) larva of amphibians, (8) Dvinosaurus, (9) Karpinskiosaurus, (10) chroniosuchids: Chroniosuchus, Jarilinus and Uralerpeton, (11) kotlassiid Microphon, (12) tokosaurids, (13) pareiasaur Scutosaurus, (14) Dicynodon, (15) therocephalians Chthonosaurus and Annatherapsidus, (16) procynosuchid Uralocynodon, (17) therocephalian Scylacosuchus, (18) gorgonopsian Inostrancevia.
image © from V.P. Tverdokhlebov et. al. (2005) Upper Permian vertebrates and their sedimentological context in the South Urals, Russia

As explained by Tverdokhlebov et. al.:

The latest Tatarian Vyatkian Community (Kutulukskaya and Kulchumovskaya svitas; Fig. 22) continued at a similar level of complexity. The aquatic component is comparable to previous examples; the fishes and larval tetrapods were fed on by the reptiliomorphs Microphon, Dvinosaurus, Karpinskiosaurus, and the chroniosuchids Chroniosuchus, Jarilinus, and Uralerpeton. Small herbivores on land include unnamed tokosaurids. Larger herbivores are the dicynodont Dicynodon and the pareiasaur Scutosaurus. Terrestrial carnivores include the reptiliomorph Chthonosaurus, the therocephalians Annatherapsidus and Scylacosuchus, and the procynosuchid cynodont Uralocynodon. The top carnivore, capable of preying on the largest of contemporary herbivores was the gorgonopsian Inostrancevia. Immediately following the end-Permian environmental catastrophe, earliest Triassic faunas consisted only of a few fish taxa and small, aquatic tetrapods, in low-diversity, low-abundance assemblages.

During this time, two new large predator families appear - the proterosuchid thecodonts archosauriforms) and the therapsid moschorhinids (therocephalians). The latter make up about half the predator specimens in the latest Daptocephalus Zone faunas (late Wuchiapingian-early Changhsingian).

End of an Era

The Changhsingian age began with the continuation of the successful Therapsid communities of the preceeding Wuchiapingian age. As time progressed, massive vulcanism in what is now Siberia (the Siberian Traps), perhaps in association with other factors, resulted in dramatic greenhouse conditions, with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane, and decreasing amounts of oxygen Retallack 2005 Retallack et al 2006. The increasingly harsh conditions began to take their toll on the biota, culminating in the worst mass extinction in the histrory of advanced life on Earth.

Unlike the End-Cretaceous Extinction, in which dinosaurs and other animals remained common until the obvious asteroid impact, there seems to have been a gradual decrease in biodoversity, at least as far as terrestrial animals went, culminating in a sudden dramatic extinction that ravaged what was left of the already impoverished fauna Ward et al. 2005. Only those animls that were already pre-adapted for low oxygen conditions, such as burrowers like Lystrosaurus, were able to make it through.Retallack et al 2003

A Late Changhsingian Bestiary

Latest Permian fossil vertebrates(Left) Representative animals (drawn to scale) from the latest Permian of Gondwana (These fossil animals are from near Bethulie, Orange Free State, Southern Africa). Scale bar 10 cm.
Featured here are Rubigea majora, a 3 meter long Gorgonopsian therapsid and superpreditor of its environment, Theriognathus microps, a tiny but advanced Therocephalian (Family: Whaitsiidae), and - , making up the herbivore contingent. - an abundant small and common large Dicynodont

Illustration from Retallack, Smith, and Ward, "Vertebrate extinction across Permian-Triassic boundary in Karoo Basin, South Africa", Geological Society of America Bulletin, 115(9): p.1133

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page by M. Alan Kazlev 2009
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