Conquest of Land

Michel Laurin

in How Vertebrates Left the Water

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520266476
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947986 | DOI:
Conquest of Land

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This chapter describes the extant taxa most relevant to studies about the conquest of land by vertebrates: the coelacanth and the dipnoans (lungfishes), the closest relatives of tetrapods. It begins by discussing the acquisition by an aquatic taxon of an amphibious lifestyle, as shown by Periophthalmus, a teleost that lives on the shores of tropical rivers and lakes and feeds on prey generally caught on land. The chapter then examines the coelacanth, which is considered as a living fossil, an expression applied to extant taxa that resemble old lineages, especially if they were discovered after their extinct relatives. The dipnoans, the closest extant relatives of tetrapods, are also discussed. Dipnoans possess functional lungs and gills, and can consequently breathe both air and water.

Keywords: extant taxa; coelacanth; dipnoans; lungfishes; tetrapods; Periophthalmus

Chapter.  2539 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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