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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish and terrestrial vertebrates)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish)

Classification of fossil and living taxa recorded from southern Africa

# = extinct, known only from fossils.

Coelacanthimorpha (coelacanths)


Latimeria chalumnae (Coelacanth)

Dipnoi (lungfish)



# Porolepimorpha



# Rhizodontimorpha



Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates)

Have muscular limbs with well-defined joints and digits (fingers and toes). Certain cranial (head) bones have been lost, permitting the head to move relative to the body, unlike other sarcopterygians.  Not all stegocephalians were terrestrial - some of the early representatives were probably aquatic. The earliest known fossils are from the Upper Devonian of east Greenland.


# Subclass: Temnospondyli

Extinct medium-sized to large carnivores rather like crocodiles in appearance and habitat that were the dominant tetrapods in the Carboniferous and which occupied habitats ranging from aquatic to terrestrial. Known from the Middle and Late Permian deposits in South Africa.


Tetrapoda (tetrapods)

Originated about 350 million years ago; includes the amphibians, reptiles (including birds), and mammals.