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Temporal range: Late Devonian
Elpistostege watsoni1.JPG
Fossil skull
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Stegocephalia
Family: Elpistostegidae
Genus: Elpistostege
E. watsoni
Binomial name
Elpistostege watsoni
Westoll, 1938

Elpistostege is an extinct genus of tetrapod-like vertebrate that lived in the Late Devonian period (Late Givetian to Early Frasnian). Fossils of its skull and a part of its backbone have been found in rocks of the Escuminac Formation in Quebec, Canada. A complete specimen of the animal has since been found in the same formation. It has been proposed, by the palaeontologist Richard Cloutier at Université du Québec à Rimouski, that this species may dethrone its close relative Tiktaalik in the position of the most primitive stem-tetrapod, though phylogenetic analyses have shown them to be very close relatives.

Elpistostege watsoni on display at the Miguasha National Park.


An analysis conducted by Swartz in 2012 found Elpistostege to be the sister taxon of Tiktaalik. Both were found to be primitive members of the group Stegocephalia, along with other primitive stem-tetrapods.[1]


Panderichthys Panderichthys BW.jpg


Tiktaalik Tiktaalik BW.jpg


Elginerpeton Elginerpeton BW.jpg


Acanthostega Acanthostega BW.jpg

Ichthyostega Ichthyostega BW.jpg

Whatcheeriidae Pederpes22small.jpg

Colosteidae Greererpeton BW.jpg

Crassigyrinus Crassigyrinus BW.jpg


Crown group Tetrapoda Seymouria BW.jpg


  1. ^ Swartz, B. (2012). "A marine stem-tetrapod from the Devonian of Western North America". PLoS ONE. 7 (3): e33683. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033683. PMC 3308997. PMID 22448265.

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