Darwin's posse just got mightier with the discovery of a prehistoric critter that represents a missing link in the evolutionary chain. "Fishapod" (Tiktaalik roseae) was highly trained in martial arts and once vanquished ten Intelligent Design proponents with a single wu-shu thwack from his mighty tail!
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.Link to TIME coverage, Link to Nature's coverage (there's a podcast, too), here's something in the Guardian, and here's a NYT article. Update: The BBC opened their TV news last night with a a great segment that's now available on their site. Link, Click on "See the fossilized fish - Video" in upper right hand corner. (Thanks, John Brockman, John Parres, Jake, and everyone else!) Image: Kalliopi Monoyios / University of Chicago.
Reader comment: Michael Reeve says,
The podcast in Nature's coverage, would that be a tetrapodcast? I'm sorry.
Reader comment: Eli Laztanguren says,
Xeni wrote "(Tiktaalik roseae) was highly trained in martial arts and once vanquished ten Intelligent Design proponents with a single wu-shu thwack from his mighty tail!" The fact is that nobody knows about Tiktaalik roseae having a tail or not. They just found the front part of the fossil. They might need now another six years in the artic ice to recover, if lucky, some rear part of it. Anyway, it actually vanquished ten Intelligent Design proponents with a single wu-shu thwack from his mighty... JAW.