transitional fosill

Tiktaalik is a genus of extinct fish. This sarcopterygian (lobe-finned) fish from the later Devonian has many features similar to those of tetrapods (four-legged animals).[1]

Temporal range: Upper Devonian
Scientific classification

Tiktaalik lived about 375 million years ago. It is part of the transition between fish such as Panderichthys, known from fossils 380 million years old, and early tetrapods such as Acanthostega and Ichthyostega, known from fossils about 365 million years old. Its mixture of basal fish and derived tetrapod characteristics led one of its discoverers, Neil Shubin, to call Tiktaalik a 'fishapod'.[2][3]

This, and other species like it, prove that legs started to develop before these animals were land-based. They were shallow-water carnivorous fish, or fishapods.[3][4] Tiktaalik was therefore a transitional fossil, and an example of mosaic evolution.

Neil Shubin, co-discoverer of Tiktaalik, holding a cast of its skull
In the late Devonian, descendants of pelagic lobe-finned fish – like Eusthenopteron – showed a sequence of adaptations: Descendants also included pelagic lobe-finned coelacanth species.
Discovery site of Tiktaalik fossils, Ellesmere Island

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References change

  1. Edward B. Daeschler, Neil H. Shubin and Farish A. Jenkins, Jr (2008). "A Devonian tetrapod-like fish and the evolution of the tetrapod body plan". Nature. 440 (7085): 757–763. doi:10.1038/nature04639. PMID 16598249. S2CID 4413217. no{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. John Noble Wilford, The New York Times, Scientists call fish fossil the missing mink, April 5, 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shubin, Neil (2008). Your inner fish. Pantheon. ISBN 9780375424472.
  4. Clack, Jenny 2012. Gaining ground: the origin and early evolution of tetrapods. 2nd ed, Bloominton, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-35675-8, (Tiktaalik at Google Books)