Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
854 ichthyostega alain beneteau
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Amphibia
Order Ichthyostegalia
Family Ichthyostegidae
Genus Ichthyostega
Conservation Status

Ichthyostega was an early amphibian genus that lived at the end of the Upper Devonian period, 374 - 359 million years ago. It was one of the first tetrapods in the fossil record. Ichthyostega possessed lungs and limbs that helped it navigate through shallow water in swamps. Until finds of the other early tetrapods and closely related fishes in the late 20th century, Ichthyostega stood alone as the transitional fossil between fish and amphibians, combining a fishlike tail and gills with an amphibian skull and limbs.


Ichthyostega species where fairly large animals, broadly built and about 1.5 meters long. The skull was flat with dorsally placed eyes and armed with larbe labyrinthodont teeth. The posterior margin of the skull formed an operculum covering the gills. The spiracle was situated in an otic notch behind each eye.

The limbs were large compared to contemporary relatives, and it had seven digits on each hind limb. The exact number of digits on the forelimb is not yet known, since fossils of the hand have not been found. It had a fin containing fin rays on its tail.


There were four known species in the genus Ichthyostega:

  • Ichthyostega eigili
  • Ichthyostega kochi
  • Ichthyostega stensioei
  • Ichthyostega watsoni