Named By: Dross - 1941.
Classification: Chordata, Sarcopterygii, Elpistostegalia, Panderichthyidae.
Species: P. rhombolepis, P. stolbovi.
Size: Around 90-130 centimetres long.
Known locations: Latvia. Also Russia?
Time period: Frasnian of the Devonian.
Fossil representation: Several individuals, they often represented by incomplete and fragmentary remains.
was a fish of the mid and late Devonian period, and one that may help
to complete a gap in evolutionary theory. The fins of Panderichthys
show the first development of fingers within them, and when compared
to other Devonian era fish and amphibians, helps to complete what we
would have expected the transition from fin to 'hand’ to have
looked like. There also seems to have been a shift towards the pelvic
region as the primary source of locomotion, just like in land living
However, while the features of Panderichthys help to show us how the transition from water to land happened, we do not know for certain if Panderichthys was a part of this, or rather, was just one of many forms that could have completed the transition. Fossil track ways of fish very similar to Panderichthys have been established to come from the late Emsian period of the Devonian (Niedźwiedzki et al, 2010) indicating that the transition and evolution could well have been underway some fifteen million years before the known appearance of Panderichthys. Assuming that Panderichthys did not live back then as well, and we have simply not found the fossils, then Panderichthys would have been a late surviving form of an archaic creature that had already evolved into a more advanced terrestrial form.
As a living creature, Panderichthys may have specialised in living in shallow and debris filled waters, where stout fins would have been welcome features for aiding movement when there was not enough free water to keep the body buoyant. We do not know for certain if Panderichthys ever left the water to walk on land, though study of the body shows that terrestrial locomotion was feasible for the genus, if only by pushing the body with the tail. Why Panderichthys would want to leave the water is also not known, but a possible scenario could be Panderichthys squirming through wet swamps to reach new bodies of water, either to hunt or possibly to reach spawning grounds, perhaps in a manner similar to modern day salmon or some fresh water eels (Anguilla).
Panderichthys is named in honour of Heinz Christian Pander (a.k.a. Christian Heinrich Pander).
- The pelvic fin and girdle of Panderichthys and the origin of tetrapod locomotion - Catherine A. Boisvert - 2005.
- Tetrapod trackways from the early Middle Devonian period of Poland - Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki, Piotr Szrek, Katarzyna Narkiewicz, Marek Narkiewicz & Per E. Ahlberg - 2010.