Tristichopterids (Tristichopteridae) were a diverse and successful group of tetrapodomorph fishes living throughout the Middle and Late Devonian. They first appeared in the Givetian stage of the Middle Devonian. Within the group sizes ranged from a few tens of centimeters (Tristichopterus) to several meters (Hyneria and Eusthenodon).

Temporal range: 392–359 Ma Middle - Late Devonian
Platycephalichthys teeth detail.jpg
Teeth of Platycephalichthys, in CosmoCaixa Barcelona
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Eotetrapodiformes
Family: Tristichopteridae
Cope, 1889

See below

Some tristichopterids share some of the features of the elpistostegalians, a paraphyletic assemblage of fishes close to the origin of tetrapods. This mainly concerns the shape of the skull and a reduction in size of the posterior fins.

An old and persistent notion is that Eusthenopteron was able to crawl onto land using its fins. However, there is no evidence actually supporting this idea. All tristichopterids went extinct by the end of Late Devonian.

Genera of TristichopteridsEdit


Below is a cladogram modified from Swartz, 2012.[1][better source needed]

?†Devonosteus proteus Jaekel 1927

?†Callistipterus clappi

?†Heddleichthys dalgleisiensis Anderson 1859

?†Hyneria lindae Thomson 1968

?†Langlieria socqueti (Clément et al., 2009)

?†Litoptychius bryanti Vorobyeva 1977

?†Notorhizodon mackelveyi Young, Long & Ritchie 1992

Spodichthys buetler Jarvik 1985

Tristichopterus alatus Egerton 1861

Eusthenopteron Whiteaves 1881

Jarvikina wenjukowi (Rohon 1889) Vorobyeva 1977

Cabonnichthys burnsi Ahlberg & Johanson 1997

Mandageria fairfaxi Johanson & Ahlberg 1997

Eusthenodon Jarvik 1952


  1. ^ Swartz, B. (2012). "A marine stem-tetrapod from the Devonian of Western North America". PLoS ONE. 7 (3): e33683. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...733683S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033683. PMC 3308997. PMID 22448265.
  • Ahlberg, PE and Z Johanson (2001). "Second tristichopterid (Sarcopterygii, Osteolepiformes) from the Upper Devonian of Canowindra, New South Wales, Australia, and phylogeny of the Tristichopteridae." in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 17:563-673.
  • Johanson, Z. and P.E. Ahlberg (1997). "New tristichopterid (Osteolepiformes; Sarcopterygii) from the Mandagery Sandstone (Famennian) near Canowindra, N.S.W., Australia." in Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 88:39-53.