Eusthenopteron was a lobe-finned fish that lived during the Late Devonian. It is well known for its relationships to the earliest tetrapods.
As a sarcopterygian fish, Eusthenopteron shares some features with early tetrapodomorphs, including similar skull bones, internal nostrils, and labyrinthodont teeth. Most notable is its fin structure, which is almost identical to that of the first land-dwelling amphibians. The largest examples of Eusthenopteron grew up to almost two meters in length.
Interestingly, based on fossil evidence Eusthenopteron does not seem to have gone through a distinct larval stage and metamorphosis. This suggests that hatchling individuals were miniature versions of adults.
In popular culture
Eusthenopteron is well known for its evolutionary association to the earliest tetrapods, and is often cited in older textbooks and television shows as the "missing link" between fish and amphibians. More recent fossil discoveries have shown that it was just one of many similar animals in the sarcopterygian group of fishes.
- M. Laurin, F. and J. Meunier 2012. A microanatomical and histological study of the fin long bones of the Devonian sarcopterygian Eusthenopteron foordi. Acta Zoologica 93: 88–97.
- Schultze, H.-P. 1984. Juvenile specimens of Eusthenopteron foordi Whiteaves, 1881 (Osteolepiform rhipidistian, Pisces) from the Late Devonian of Miguasha, Quebec, Canada. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 4: 1-16.
- Whiteaves, Joseph Frederick (1881). "On some remarkable fossil fishes from the Devonian rocks of Scaumenac Bay, in the Province of Quebec". Annals and Magazine of Natural History 8: 159–162.
- Geological Survey of Canada (2008-02-07). "Past lives: Chronicles of Canadian Paleontology: Eusthenopteron - the Prince of Miguasha". Retrieved 2009-02-10.