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Ichthyostega (ick-THEE-oh-STEH-guh) was likely the first true amphibian from the Late Devonian period. It was a half amphibian and lobe-finned fish. This tetrapod evolved from lobe-finned fishes like Eusthenopteron, Panderichthys, and Tiktaalik called tetrapodomorphs, which both include those fishes and tetrapods. Acanthostega was also a Devonian amphibian.


In 1932 a scientist named Gunnar Save Soderbergh lead an espedition in Greenland to find fossils. He found over four species of a new kind of large amphibian, and named it Ichthyostega, or "fish roof", since the top of its head seemed to resemble that of a fish. Gunnar noticed that each species differed slightly in skull proportions, punctuation, and bone pattern.


Although Ichthyostega certainly had amphibian-like qualities, there's been some debate as to whether or not it actually is one or just a very advanced lobe-fish, since its skull still had very fish-like features. It was very large for an amphibian, reaching lengths of over 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. Its head was flat with large eyes and powerful jaws with sharp teeth that would've been helpful in keeping a grip on its struggling fishy prey. It likely had a smooth, slimy body to help it go through water easier, keep it hydrated, and absorb oxygen easier. It also had a long, strong tail that helped propel it through the water and either catch prey or stay ahead of predators. One feature that sets Ichthyostega apart from most amphibians is that it had seven digits on its hind feet. Like others of its kind, it had webbing between its toes to help with swimming.

In the Media[]

Ichthyostega had a small role in the second episode of Animal Armageddon, where it shows how it looked, acted, and lived compared to its ancestor Tiktaalik after the Devonian Extinction.







Animal Armageddon


Vertebrate Paleontology