Fossil range: Late Devonian
Daeschler et al., 1994
Hynerpeton (IPA: [haɪnɚpətɒn], meaning "Hyner's creeper") was a basal carnivorous tetrapod that lived in the Devonian period around 360 million years ago. Like many primitive tetrapods, it is sometimes referred to as an "amphibian", though it is not a true member of the class Amphibia. The Late Devonian saw the evolution of plants into trees and growing into vast forests pumping oxygen into the air, possibly giving Hynerpeton an edge because it evolved complex lungs to exploit it. Its lungs probably consisted of sacs like modern terrestrial vertebrates. Only a few bones have been found from Hynerpeton, in Red Hill, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.. The known fossils include two shoulder girdles, two lower jaws, a jugal bone and some gastralia.
The structure of the shoulder girdle indicates this animal may have been one of the earlier, more primitive tetrapods to evolve during the Devonian. Information on the relationship of the known fossils of Hypnerpeton to other Devonian tetrapods can be found in Gaining Ground The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods by J.A. Clack.
In popular culture
Hynerpeton is featured in the first episode of the 2005 documentary series Walking With Monsters. It was seen fancifully and erroneously evolving from Cephalaspis, and then walking on land. The Hynerpetons roared throughout the episode, though it is unknown if basal tetrapods were capable of making any vocalizations.