Synapsida (‘Mammal‐like Reptiles’)


In the phylogenetic system, the Synapsida include Mammalia and all other amniotes more closely related to Mammalia than to Reptilia. Nonmammalian synapsids form an extensive series of taxa that are successively more closely related to mammals and are often collectively referred to as ‘mammal‐like reptiles’. This vernacular term alludes to the superficially ‘reptilian’ appearance of many primitive synapsids. It has become scientifically meaningless because Synapsida and Reptilia are now interpreted as two entirely distinct evolutionary lineages of Amniota.

Keywords: evolution; origin of mammals; fossils; carboniferous; permian; triassic

Further Reading

Hopson JA (1991) Systematics of the non‐mammalian Synapsida and implications for patterns of evolution in synapsids. In: Schultze H‐P and Trueb L (eds) Origins of the Higher Groups of Tetrapods. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Kemp TS (1982) Mammal‐like Reptiles and the Origin of Mammals. New York: Academic Press.

King GM (1988) Anomodontia. Handbuch der Paläoherpetologie Part 17 C. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag.

Reisz RR (1986) Pelycosauria. Handbuch der Paläoherpetologie, Part 17A. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag.

Sigogneau‐Russell D (1989) Theriodontia I. Handbuch der Paläoherpetologie, Part 17 B/I. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag.

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How to Cite close
Sues, Hans‐Dieter(May 2001) Synapsida (‘Mammal‐like Reptiles’). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001547]