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The term is similar or identical to the Labyrinthodonts minus the Lepospondyls. It is probably an evolutionary grade, not monophyletic. It is convenient to use, because all these early amphibia were so different from present-day amphibia.
Fossils have been found on every continent. Their evolutionary history spans 210 million years. During this time, they adapted to a wide range of habitats including fresh water, terrestrial, and even coastal marine environments. Fossils are known from the larval stage, metamorphosis, and maturity. Most temnospondyls were semiaquatic, although some were almost fully terrestrial, returning to the water only to breed. These temnospondyls were some of the first vertebrates fully adapted to life on land. Although temnospondyls are considered amphibians, many had characteristics such as scales, claws, and armour-like bony plates which modern amphibians do not have.
- Milner, Andrew 1990. the radiations of temnospondyl amphibians. In Taylor P.D. & Larwood G.P. (eds) Major evolutionary radiations. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-857718-4
- Carroll, Robert 2009. The rise of amphibians: 360 million years of evolution. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0-8018-9140-X
|Wikispecies has information on: Temnospondyli.|