Fossil tetrapod families

A listing of tetrapod families, giving stratigraphic range, geographic distribution, and broad ecological category. Geographic and ecological categories used in the analysis of tetrapod families (Benton 1996a, b). Each of the 840 non-singleton tetrapod families was assigned to one category of each geographic and ecological attribute. Families were assigned to the most appropriate categories, based on consideration of all species in the family, and taking account, as far as possible, of changing body sizes and diets during growth. Singleton families, indicated by an asterisk*, and extant families that lack a fossil record, indicated by a double asterisk**, are listed, but not categorised. Families and stratigraphic ranges are taken from Benton (1993).


Categories used

  1. Geographic assignments: AF, Africa; AN, Antarctica; AS, Asia; AU, Australasia; CA, Central America (including Caribbean); CO, cosmopolitan (five or more continents); EU, Europe (including Greenland); IN, Indian Ocean islands; NA, North America; PA, Pacific islands; SA, South America.
  2. Body size: S, small (snout-vent length [SV] < 150 mm); M, medium (150 mm < SV <1.5 m): L, large (SV > 1.5 m).
  3. Diet: carnivores (EG, eggs; FI, fishes; IN, insects and other invertebrates; MO, molluscs; TE, tetrapods); OM, omnivores; herbivores (BR, browsers; FR, fruit-eaters; GN, grain-eaters; GR, grazers; GW, gnawers; NE, nectar-drinkers).
  4. Habitat: predominantly terrestrial (TE), freshwater (FW), marine (MA), arboreal (AR), aerial (AE), subterranean (ST).

Data sets

Choose from the following tabulated data sets.
Let me know if you have any problems in downloading the list, or if you detect any errors (there are countless hundreds, no doubt. Also, let me know if you use the data, and particularly if you publish anything using the data. Contact mike.benton@bristol.ac.uk.

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