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XII.—The Postcranial Skeleton of Rhipidistian Fishes Excluding Eusthenopteron*

  • S. Mahala Andrews (a1) and T. Stanley Westoll (a2)

In a previous paper (Andrews and Westoll 1970) the postcranial skeleton of the best known rhipidistian, Eusthenopteron, was described, and its bearing on the origin of the tetrapod postcranial skeleton discussed. The postcranial remains of other Rhipidistia are now described as far as they are known, and comparisons are made with Eusthenopteron and other forms where relevant. Possible modes of function are considered in relation to the habitats in which these fishes may have lived. These studies have made it necessary to revise rhipidistian classification; the Family Rhizodontidae is re-defined and placed alone in a third Order of Rhipidistia (the Rhizodontida, alongside the better known Osteolepidida and Holoptychiida). Fresh insight has been gained into the following morphological problems: the composition of the osteolepid ring-like centrum, the origin of the tetrapod scapular blade and the diphyletic origin of the tetrapods.

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