Jan 16 2014

From ancient fish, insight into origin of limbs

A fish with legs? It sounds preposterous, but ancient fossils unearthed in the Canadian Arctic reveal a fish that had skeletal features similar to animals with legs, researchers said Monday.

The find challenges the widely held view of evolution that hind limbs did not begin to form until creatures left the oceans and began living on land.

And it provides a powerful insight into the pivotal episode when creatures emerged onto land: If the authors are right, we can trace our arms — and our legs — to fish fins.

“That wrist you use to write with, the neck you use to move your head around with, the lungs you’re using to breathe . . . all derive from parts in the bodies of fish. Your hands and arms derive from parts of the fins,” said Neil Shubin, a professor of anatomy at the University of Chicago who was one of the leaders of the work. “What the fossil record tells us is how deeply we are connected to life on the rest of the planet. In this case, this tells us how closely we are related to fish.”

Read the full article here.

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