Cisuralian Epoch
Permian Period

The Cisuralian (Rotliegendes)

The Cisuralian Epoch of the Permian Period: 299 to 271 million years ago

Marine Invertebrate Life

Permian reef scene

A Permian reef (Artinskian of Texas), showing an abundance of sponges, rugose corals and brachiopods, a gastropod (left)), a spiny-shelled nautilid Cooperoceras (right foreground) and a smooth shelled ammonoid (center background).

source - Earth History Resources

Marine Fishes of the Early Permian

Copacabana fish fauna - from Janvier, Early Vertebrates

Early Permian fishes from the Copacabana Formation of Bolivia. The fauna still includes some of the peculiar chondrichthyans of the Carboniferous, such as huge engeneodontids (1. Parahelicoprion) and petalodontids (2, Megactenopetalus) along with primitive sharks (3) and a variety of ray-finned fishes (4, platysomids).

Fresh Water Fish

Witchita fish fauna - from Janvier, Early Vertebrates

In the Early Permian, the last refuge for some of the vertebrate taxa that were widespread in Devonian times was the marginal, possibly brackish or freshwater, environment. exemplified here by the red beds of the Wichita Group of Texas. In this environment survived the youngest osteolepiform (1. Ectosteorhachis) and acanthodians (2. Acanthodes) in association with xenacanthiform (3) and hybodontiform sharks (4). as well as with coelacanths, lungfishes (5), and various ray-finned fishes (6). Various tetrapods stem tetrapods and early synapsids, 7) also occur together with this fish fauna

this and previous image and (most of) the associated text from Philippe Janvier's superb Early Vertebrates, pp.22-23 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1996).

An Early Permian Bestiary

Illustration by Dr Bob Bakker

The early Permian age, a period of well over 20 million years, was - as far as the terrestrial ecosystem went - a fairly stable period ruled over by a diverse selection of pelycosaurs, including the large sphenacodontid finbacks such as the carnivorous Dimetrodon, Ctenospondylus, and Secodontosaurus, all of which attained a lengths of up to 3 meters, as well as semi-aquatic ophiacodonts and the big temnospondyl Eryops and smaller eel-like anthracosaur Archeria. This was a biome strongly tied to water and to a plant-arthropod-fish food chain; Diadectes and Edaphosaurus were the only herbivores. In this respect it continued the pattern of the great Carboniferous coal swamps. The drier upland was inhabited by a different fauna, mostly smaller insectivores with the herbivorous caseids and proto-therapsid Tetraceratops as significant newcomers. Both in the uplands and the lowlands insects continued to represent an astonishing diversity of forms.


Click on the names of the stages given below for more detail regarding the stratigraphy and animals living at that time (note: these pages are still under construction)

Period Epoch Age When
Permian Guadalupian
(Middle Permain)
Roadian 270.6 2.6
(early Permian)
Kungurian 275.6 5.0
Artinskian 284.4 8.8
Sakmarian 294.6 10.2
Asselian 299.0 4.4
Carboniferous Pennsylvanian Gzhelian 303.9 4.9

The Permian - a brief but very readable introduction to some of the major animals and plants of early Permian time, with illustrations from the Age of Reptiles mural by Rudolph F. Zallinger

American Permian Vertebrates - an electronic reprint of Williston's classic (1911) monograph on American Permian Vertebrates (includes Eryops, Aspidosaurus, Nothodon, Seymouria, Clepsydrops, Ophiacodon, Varanosaurus, Casea, and others) can be purchased here for an inexpensive fee.

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page uploaded on Kheper Site on 24 August 2000, page uploaded on Palaeos Site 10 April 2002, last modified 4 May
text content by M. Alan Kazlev Creative Commons Attribution License 2000-2002
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