Fossil discoveries in the Metangula Graben (Niassa, Mozambique) began when Domingos Rocha collected the first synapsid remains in 1949 during a geological survey led by Alexandre Borges (Geological and Mines Services). This early survey in search of coal and other natural resources provided a basis for understanding the geology of the region and gave a preliminary glance of the vertebrate fossils found there. 

The 1949 and 1954 fossil collections were sent to South Africa. Sidney Haughton wrote a preliminary note on the material and then briefly described it in a broader article (Haughton 1963). This collection, now at the Bernard Price Institute (South Africa), was also partially studied in the 1990's by Latimer & Rubidge (1995), who identified tooth replacement patterns in Endothiodon sp. The 1961 collection was studied by Miguel Telles Antunes. He described skull elements of Endothiodon and an unidentified gorgonopsian (Antunes 1975). 

Borges et al. (1953) characterised the geological sequence of the lower portion of the basin as the “Lunho Series”, which was later correlated with the South African Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone (Teixeira & Gonçalves 1959, Antunes 1975) and late Permian (sensu Rubidge et al. 1995). 


A second wave of geological exploration led by Jacques Verniers from 1977 to 1980 was commissioned by the  Direcção Nacional de Geologia (a Mozambican governamental body). The four-year project resulted in a detailed description of the stratigraphy and economical potential of the basin (Verniers et al. 1989), however, it did not provide any significant insights into vertebrate paleontology. 

The PalNiassa Project started in 2009. Several tons of fossil remains have been collected from the Niassa and Tete provinces during the PalNiassa paleontological expeditions, and new localities rich in vertebrate material were discovered. Many of the vertebrate fossils collected are now under study or preparation by paleontologists, students and partners of the project.