Orders: Stegocephalia, A poda (or Peromela), Caudata (or Urodela), Ecaudata (or Anura).
As a result of his researches on the anomodont reptiles and the Stegocephalia (4), as the extinct order that includes the well known labyrinthodonts is now called, we have had the proposal by H.
Credner, basing his views on the discovery by him of various annectent forms between the Stegocephalia and the Rhynchocephalian reptiles, has proposed a class, Eotetrapoda, to include these forms, ancestors of the batrachians proper on the one hand, of the reptiles proper on the other.
Yet, that the Stegocephalia, notwithstanding their great affinity to the reptiles, ought to be included in the batrachians as commonly understood, seems sufficiently obvious from the mere fact of their passing through a branchiate condition, i.e.
The outcome of our present knowledge points to the Stegocephalia, probably themselves derived from the Crossopterygian fishes (8), having yielded on the one hand the true batrachians (retrogressive series), with which they are to a certain extent connected through the Caudata and the Apoda, on the other hand the reptiles (progressive series), through the Rhynchocephalians and the Anomodonts, the latter being believed, on very suggestive evidence, to lead to the mammals (9).
The division of the class Amphibia or Batrachia into four orders, as carried out by Huxley, is maintained, with, however, a change of names: Stegocephalia, for the assemblage of minor groups that cluster round the Labyrinthodonta of R.
In the earliest forms of this order, the Stegocephalia, we meet with considerable variety in the constitution of the vertebrae, and these modifications have been used for their classification.
All living batrachians, and some of the Stegocephalia, have transverse processes on the vertebrae that succeed the atlas (fig.
6.) As stated above in the definition of the order, the Stegocephalia have retained most of the cranial bones which are to be found in the Crossopterygian fishes, and it is worthy of note that the bones termed post-temporals may give attachment to a further bone so prolonged backwards as to suggest the probability of the skull being connected with the shoulder-girdle, as in most teleostome fishes.
Although not strictly forming part of the skull, allusion should be made here to the ring of sclerotic plates which has been found in many of the Stegocephalia, and which is only found elsewhere in a few Crossopterygian fishes as well as in many reptiles and birds.
The pectoral girdle of the Stegocephalia is, of course, only known from the ossified elements, the identification of which has given rise to some diversity of opinion.
The pelvic arch of some of the Stegocephalia contained a well ossified pubic element, whilst in all other batrachians only the ilium, or the ilium and the ischium are ossified.
The carpus, which remains cartilaginous in many of the Stegocephalia and Caudata, contains six to eight elements when the manus is fully developed, whilst the number is reduced in those forms which have only two or three digits.
Except in some of the Stegocephalia, there are only four functional digits in the manus, but the Ecaudata have a more or less distinct rudiment of pollex; in the Caudata it seems to be the outer digit which has been suppresssed, as atavistic reappearance of a fifth digit takes place on the outer side of the manus, as it does on the pes in those forms in which the toes are reduced to four.
The usual number of phalanges is 2, 2, 3, 2 in the Stegocephalia and Caudata, 2, 2, 3, 3 in the Ecaudata.
In the foot the digits usually number five, and the phalanges 2, 2, 3, 3, 2 in the Caudata, 2, 2, 3, 4, 3 in the Stegocephalia and Ecaudata.
The extinct Stegocephalia, on the other hand, were mostly protected, on the ventral surface at least, by an armour of overlapping round, oval, or rhomboidal scales, often very similar to those of Crossopterygian or ganoid fishes, and likewise disposed in transverse oblique lines converging forwards on the middle line of the belly.
None of the Stegocephalia appears to have been provided with claws, but some living batrachians (Onychodactylus, Xenopus, Hymenochirus) have the tips of some or all of the digits protected by a claw-like horny sheath.
- In the Microsauria and Branchiosauria among the Stegocephalia, as in the other orders, the hollow, conical or slightly curved teeth exhibit simple or only slightly folded walls.
- Ventral present in the jaws of all known Stegocephalia view of the head and Apoda and of nearly all Caudata, Siren and trunk of Ichthy- alone presenting plates of horn upon the ophis glutinosus.
Simultaneously on the vomers, the palatines, Rsvc, Lsvc, right the pterygoids and the parasphenoid in and left supesome of the Stegocephalia (Dawsonia, Seeleya, rior cavae.
Even the fossil Stegocephalia underwent metamorphosis, as we know from various larval remains first described as Branchiosaurus.