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Temporal range: Middle Devonian
Osteolepis macrolepidotus.jpg
Osteolepis macrolepidotus fossil at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sarcopterygii
Clade: Tetrapodomorpha
Clade: Megalichthyiformes
Genus: Osteolepis
Agassiz, 1843

Osteolepis ('bone scale') is an extinct genus of lobe-finned fish from the Devonian period. It lived in the Lake Orcadie of northern Scotland.

Osteolepis was about 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, and covered with large, square scales. The scales and plates on its head were covered in a thin layer of spongy, bony material called cosmine. This layer contained canals which were connected to sensory cells deeper in the skin. These canals ended in pores on the surface, and were probably for sensing vibrations in the water.[1]

Osteolepis was a rhipidistian, having a number of features in common with the tetrapods (land-dwelling vertebrates and their descendants), and was probably close to the base of the tetrapod family tree.



  1. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 43. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.