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Keywords:

  • Carboniferous;
  • Amphibia;
  • anatomy;
  • functional morphology;
  • phylogeny

The skull of Spathicephalus mirus Watson, an amphibian from the Namurian, basal Upper Carboniferous, of Scotland is described. It shares with the Loxommatoidea a closed palate, palatal ornament and antorbital vacuities, and the family Spathicephalidae is recognized as the sister group of the Loxommatidae. A new diagnosis of the Loxommatoidea is presented together with one of the Spathicephalidae. An analysis of the functional morphology of the Spathicephalus skull suggests that it was incapable of rapid jaw closure required for catching fish. Instead it is proposed that Spathicephalus was a sluggish bottom-dwelling filter-feeder of small, soft invertebrates.