The 380 million-year-old fossil of fish walking on land
The researchers discovered the fossils of a multi-finger finfish that lived on Earth in the late Devonian.
The team's discovery in Australia and Canada is one of the most complete fossils of the lobe finfish. The 1.5 meter long fish was found in Miguasha, Quebec in 1938. It belongs to the Elpistostege watsoni, the largest predator that dominated the shallow and estuarine environment in Quebec 380 million years ago. The sharp fangs help them eat the big fish of the same area.
The researchers suggest that the multi-finger structure in the fins supports E. watsoni for short walks. (Photo: CNN).
A computerized scan of the skeleton revealed that E. watsoni has at least two fingers like a finger and could have an additional three fingers. The team also found that the arms, elbows, forearms and wrists attached to the fingers. All are covered by fin rays, the padded appendages. The researchers shared the findings in Nature March 18.
"We report the discovery of a complete specimen of a species of lobe finfish, which provides new information about the evolution of the hands of vertebrates," said John Long, a professor of paleontology at the University. Study Flinders, who led the research, said. "The knuckles of the fish's fins are similar to the finger bones found in most animals."
According to the researchers, this appendage helped E. watsoni survive in shallow water in the late Devonian. "The origin of the fingers is related to the development of the ability to support body weight under shallow water or for short walks on land," explained Richard Cloutier, a professor at the University of Quebec at Rimouski. "The increased number of small bones in the fins gives us the flexibility to disperse weight across the fins. The lobe finfish is not our ancestor, but this is an authentic transition fossil between fish and four-legged animals."
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