Placodermi (from the Greek πλάξ = plate and δέρμα = skin, literally "plate-skinned") is an extinct class of armoured prehistoric fish, known from fossils, which lived from the Silurian to the end of the Devonian Period. Their head and thorax were covered by articulated armoured plates and the rest of the body was scaled or naked, depending on the species. Placoderms were among the first jawed fish; their jaws likely evolved from the first of their gill arches. Placoderms are paraphyletic, and consist of several distinct outgroups or sister taxa to all living jawed vertebrates, which originated among their ranks. This is illustrated by a 419-million-year-old fossil, Entelognathus, from China, which is the only known placoderm with a type of bony jaw like that found in modern bony fishes. This includes a dentary bone, which is found in humans and other tetrapods. The jaws in other placoderms were simplified and consisted of a single bone. Placoderms were also the first fish to develop pelvic fins, the precursor to hindlimbs in tetrapods, as well as true teeth. 380-million-year-old fossils of three other genera, Incisoscutum, Materpiscis and Austroptyctodus, represent the oldest known examples of live birth.
The first identifiable placoderms appear in the fossil record during the late Llandovery epoch of the early Silurian. The various groups of placoderms were diverse and abundant during the Devonian, but became extinct at the end-Devonian Hangenberg event 360 million years ago.
Pages in category "Placoderms"
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