Tiktaalik roseae: The Missing Link?

Scientists from the University of Chicago unveiled their discovery of the fossils of a "fishapod" named Tiktaalik roseae, a fish with ribcage, neck, and primitive writst and fingers - characteristics of land animals.

The fossils of the approximately 9-ft. long creature, which are, described in two Nature articles released today, were dug out of rock formations on Ellesmere Island, in the Canadian Arctic, by paleontologists from the University of Chicago and several other institutions. Its nickame, for reasons that will become clear, is "fishapod"; it's more formally called Tiktaalik ("large fish in stream," in the local Inuit language). Fishapod dates from about 383 million years ago. It had the scales, teeth and gills of a fish, but also a big, curved rib cage that suggests the creature had lungs as well. The ribs interlock, moreover, unlike a fish's, implying they were able to bear fishapod's weight—an unnecessary trait in a fish. It had a neck—most unfishlike. And, most surprising of all, its pectoral fins included bones that look like nothing less than a primitive wrist and fingers.

Links: Time | NYTimes | BBC | Pharyngula


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