tet·​ra·​pod | \ ˈte-trə-ˌpäd How to pronounce tetrapod (audio) \

Definition of tetrapod

: a vertebrate (such as an amphibian, a bird, or a mammal) with two pairs of limbs

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Did You Know?

The earliest tetrapods, or "four-footed" animals, were mammal-like reptiles that evolved before the rise of the dinosaurs and ranged from mouse-sized to cow-sized. Today the tetrapods include the reptiles, the amphibians, the birds, and the mammals—including humans. Though the fish aren't classified as tetrapods, it's quite possible that our own limbs began as paired fins hundreds of millions of years ago.

Examples of tetrapod in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Here’s an unorthodox solution to slippery soap: Shape it like a tetrapod. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Tetra Soap brings Brutalism to personal hygiene," 22 May 2018 Dasen and his colleagues also looked at a genetic transcription factor called Foxp1, located at the spinal cord in tetrapods. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "What a Walking Fish Can Teach Us About Human Evolution," 9 Feb. 2018 Scientists had diagrammed the somewhat smooth distributions of other tetrapods—vertebrates descended from the earliest four-limbed creatures. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, "Reptiles Are Concentrated in Specific Locations, Often Unprotected," 1 Apr. 2018 Image In land vertebrates, or tetrapods, walking is partly characterized by this left-right alternation as well as rhythms of extending and flexing. Steph Yin, New York Times, "These Skates Are Made for Walking," 8 Feb. 2018 There’s Elginerpeton pancheni, an early tetrapod that lived outside the ocean sometime around 375 million years ago. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "What a Walking Fish Can Teach Us About Human Evolution," 9 Feb. 2018 The importance of global parsimony and historical bias in understanding tetrapod evolution. Darren Naish, Scientific American Blog Network, "The Microsaurs of Yore," 7 July 2017 Once ashore, these four-limbed vertebrates, called tetrapods, branched into an impressive range of animals: amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds and mammals. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "Everything Worth Knowing About ... When We Left Water," 26 June 2017 Unusual tetrapod teeth from the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation, Arizona, USA. Brian Switek, Scientific American Blog Network, "The Triassic's Mystery Creature," 17 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tetrapod.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tetrapod

circa 1891, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tetrapod

New Latin tetrapodus, from Greek tetrapod-, tetrapous four-footed, from tetra- + pod-, pous foot — more at foot

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Time Traveler for tetrapod

The first known use of tetrapod was circa 1891

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tetrapod

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