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Tetrapods Essay

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The early Devonian period is largely considered to be a world of a diverse array of lobe-finned fish, including lungfish, coelacanths, and bony fish. Over the course of time, vertebrates made evolutionary strides with provided them with the ability to travel on land. Coelacanths developed a single boned shoulder girdle, lungfish developed paired fins, and sauripterus developed the major structures on the arm (humerus, radius, and ulna). As these developments progressed and environmental pressures were amounting in aquatic environments, vertebrates began to venture onto land. Sometimes it was for short excursions, sometimes a bit longer. A major step in vertebrate evolution was the advancement of the tetrapod, a vertebrate animal with four appendages or legs. Buettneria, an early tetrapod was primarily an aquatic animal with very short legs that were used to make brief adventures onto land. Over time tetrapods made longer land excursions and developed more substantial lives on land. As a result, they developed different types of limbs which evolved for a variety of uses. Some limbs were more suited to grasping, others to swimming, flying or walking.
During the late Devonian Period the older aquatic clades split from the tetrapods. The tetrapods continued to evolve over time. There are four classes of tetrapods: amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. They evolved in this order as well. Within the four classes, the limbs of different groups changed and adapted in order to suit their surrounding environment. This led to many different tetrapod morphologies resulting in some tetrapods evolving for terrestrial lifestyles, some for aquatic surroundings and others for aerial existences.
Amphibians, semi-aquatic animals, a...


... middle of paper ...


...as a strong enough force to move vertebrates onto land. In order to do so, four limbs that allow for movement and radiation in the terrestrial world were developed. Both the fossil records and extant animals provide a cladistics map of how fish became tetrapods and how tetrapods split into amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.




Works Cited

Blount, Kitty, and Maggie Crowley, eds. Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life. New
York: Dk Publishing, Inc., 2008. Accessed November 29, 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=a8bQxpPqmQgC&dq=Encyclopedia+of+Dinosaurs+and+Prehistoric+Life++By+Dorling+Kindersley&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
Feduccia, Alan. The origin and evolution of birds. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
Accessed November 29, 2011,
http://books.google.com/books/about/The_origin_and_evolution_of_birds.html?id=8QRKV
7eSqmIC.


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