Wellstead, Carl F. Department of Biology, West Virginia Institute of Technology, Montgomery, West Virginia.
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An order of extremely elongate, limbless fossil amphibians in the subclass Lepospondyli from Permo-Carboniferous rocks of North America and Europe. The order Aistopoda (also spelled Aïstopoda) consists of extremely elongate, limbless fossil amphibians. Commonly called aistopods, these extinct amphibians belong to the subclass Lepospondyli and have been found in Permo-Carboniferous rocks of North America (in particular, Ohio and Illinois in the United States) and Europe (including the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic). The order includes five families: Lethiscidae (Lethiscus), Ophiderpetontidae (Ophiderpeton; see illustration), Oestocephalidae (Oestocephalus and Coloraderpeton), Phlegethontiidae (Phlegethontia and Sillerpeton), and Pseudophlegethontiidae (Pseudophlegethontia). The genera are usually monotypic, with the exception of Ophiderpeton (six species), Oestocephalus (two species), and Phlegethontia (two species). In seeming contrast to their derived state, aistopods are among the very oldest of all known fossil tetrapods. See also: Amphibia; Extinction (biology); Fossil; Lepospondyli; Tetrapoda
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