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Nature. 2008 Jun 26;453(7199):1199-204. doi: 10.1038/nature06991.

Ventastega curonica and the origin of tetrapod morphology.

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  • 1Subdepartment of Evolutionary Organismal Biology, Department of Physiology and Developmental Biology, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18A, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden.


The gap in our understanding of the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapod is beginning to close thanks to the discovery of new intermediate forms such as Tiktaalik roseae. Here we narrow it further by presenting the skull, exceptionally preserved braincase, shoulder girdle and partial pelvis of Ventastega curonica from the Late Devonian of Latvia, a transitional intermediate form between the 'elpistostegids' Panderichthys and Tiktaalik and the Devonian tetrapods (limbed vertebrates) Acanthostega and Ichthyostega. Ventastega is the most primitive Devonian tetrapod represented by extensive remains, and casts light on a part of the phylogeny otherwise only represented by fragmentary taxa: it illuminates the origin of principal tetrapod structures and the extent of morphological diversity among the transitional forms.

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