Rise of the Earliest Tetrapods: An Early Devonian Origin from Marine Environment


Tetrapod fossil tracks are known from the Middle Devonian (Eifelian at ca. 397 million years ago--MYA), and their earliest bony remains from the Upper Devonian (Frasnian at 375-385 MYA). Tetrapods are now generally considered to have colonized land during the Carboniferous (i.e., after 359 MYA), which is considered to be one of the major events in the history of life. Our analysis on tetrapod evolution was performed using molecular data consisting of 13 proteins from 17 species and different paleontological data. The analysis on the molecular data was performed with the program TreeSAAP and the results were analyzed to see if they had implications on the paleontological data collected. The results have shown that tetrapods evolved from marine environments during times of higher oxygen levels. The change in environmental conditions played a major role in their evolution. According to our analysis this evolution occurred at about 397-416 MYA during the Early Devonian unlike previously thought. This idea is supported by various environmental factors such as sea levels and oxygen rate, and biotic factors such as biodiversity of arthropods and coral reefs. The molecular data also strongly supports lungfish as tetrapod's closest living relative.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022136

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@inproceedings{George2011RiseOT, title={Rise of the Earliest Tetrapods: An Early Devonian Origin from Marine Environment}, author={David C. George and Alain Blieck}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2011} }