Ancient amphibians

Stegocephali is a group containing all four-limbed vertebrates.

Temporal range: Late DevonianPresent, 375–0 Ma Possibly Middle Devonian
Examples of stegocephalians (clockwise from top left): Litoria phyllochroa, Acanthostega gunnari, Vulpes vulpes, and Tyto alba
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Elpistostegalia
Clade: Stegocephali
Cope, 1868

See text.

The word was first used in 1868 by the American paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope, who used it as a general category of prehistoric amphibians. This did not get used by other people.

In 1998 the Canadian paleontologist Michel Laurin used the word and gave a formal phylogenetic definition. This was intended to include taxa with digits rather than fins, except where secondarily lost.[1]


  1. Michel Laurin (1998): The importance of global parsimony and historical bias in understanding tetrapod evolution. Part I-systematics, middle ear evolution, and jaw suspension. Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Zoologie, Paris, 13e Series 19: pp 1–42.