The origin of choanae
(internal nostrils) from the primitive dual external naris of basal vertebrates was ‘settled’ over a decade ago with the observation that Kennichthys (Fig. 1; Zhu and Ahlberg 2004; Janvier 2004) had a naris/choana at the rim of its jaws. At the time, Kennichthys was thought to be an osteolepiform and basal to tetrapods. In other words, that was the phylogenetic context at the time.
However, a novel phylogenetic context
arises by greater taxon inclusion in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1548 taxa; Fig. 2).
The LRT indicates
that Kennichthys was a terminal taxon, not leading to higher taxa. Polypterus and Powichthys have/had a single external and internal naris. This pattern leads by homology to tetrapods and osteolepiforms. A reversal took place with a traditional osteolpiform, Onychodus (Fig. 3), which has dual external nares, like ray fin fish, AND an internal naris. Thereafter the internal naris disappears and dual external nares are retained.
Lungfish have/had two internal nares.
Some higher, predatory placoderms have a single external naris (not sure about the palate). A clade including living lizardfish (Trachinocephalus), Cheirolepis, and spiny sharks by convergence seem to have one external naris (not sure about the palate).
Chang M and Zhu M 1993. A new Middle Devonian osteolepidid from Qujing, Yunnan. Mem. Assoc. Australas. Palaeontol. 15 183-198.
Janvier P 2004. Wandering nostrils. Nature 432:23–24.
Zhu M and Ahlberg P 2004. The origin of the internal nostril of tetrapods. Nature 432:94-97.