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The fin-limb transition and sarcopterygian relationships

The fin-limb transition and sarcopterygian relationships

Geobios, Memoire Special 19(Pages 289-292

Based on recent morphological and developmental data on paired fin/limbs we propose a common morphogenetic basis to the sarcopterygians, and attempt explanation of their evolutionary diversification. Proximally there is a common developmental Bauplan for sarcopterygians generating a single stylopod, and a double-element zeugopod, but with these two elements sometimes fused in biseriate types (e.g., dipnoans). Distally, modulating spatially and temporally the two developmental mechanisms (apical-ridge generating endoskeleton, fin-fold generating exoskeleton) results in morphological variation, exemplified by differences in numbers of pre-axial radials in crossopterygians, and in digits in polydactylous tetrapods. Because ontogenic patterns are not rigidly fixed in phylogeny (e.g., altered in larval adaptations), there are similarities in adult limb morphology in phylogenetically-distant groups, but differences in closely-related groups.

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