Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Walking fish" reveals fresh evolutionary insights

Will Dunham (Reuters, 10/15/08)

A new study on the internal anatomy of the skull of the extraordinary fish Tiktaalik roseae, which lived 275 million years ago, provides more evidence of how vertebrate life transitioned from water to land. The head showed changes from more primitive fish that helped adapt to the new feeding and breathing conditions presented by a terrestrial environment, scientists said(Ted Daeschler/Handout/Reuters).

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- An extraordinary fish that existed 375 million years ago had unique features in its head that helped pave the way for vertebrate animals to live on land, scientists said on Wednesday.

Scientists for the first time described features in the underside of the skull of Tiktaalik roseae, the so-called "walking fish" discovered in the Canadian Arctic in 2004. It is considered an important transitional animal in the evolution of fish into amphibians, the first land-dwelling vertebrates.

The findings showed that the migration from water to land was more complicated than merely having a fish's fins transform into legs, the scientists wrote in the journal Nature. More>>

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