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Fossil amphibian – Balanerpeton woodi

Balanerpeton woodi is an extinct amphibian whose fossil remains have been found in the East Kirkton Limestone of East Kirkton, Bathgate, Scotland. They date from the Brigantian Stage of the Carboniferous Period and are about 335 million years old.

This rare and interesting fossil was purchased in 1985 from the collector, Stan Wood. It was not actually collected from East Kirkton Quarry itself but was found in a block of limestone that had been taken from the site and built into a nearby drystone wall. Only part of the skeleton consisting of part of the spine, the pelvic area, the base of the tail and the two hind legs is preserved.

Balanerpeton was a member of a group of amphibians known as temnospondyls. It was a predator that grew to nearly half metre long and resembled modern salamanders. Its limbs show it spent much of its life on land.

East Kirkton is now one of the World’s most important fossil sites. Balanerpeton woodi and other fossils have added greatly to our knowledge of early amphibians and other tetrapods. Rare fossil scorpions, water scorpions, millipedes and a harvestman spider have also been discovered here.

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