Science and Tech


4-Legged Ancient Fish Fossil Could Prove Fin-Limb Evolution

Researchers believe an ancient fish with front and back legs shows the first legs developed in the water, unlike previously thought.
Posted at 1:53 PM, Jan 14, 2014

Evolutionary researchers have discovered something that completely contradicts traditional views on how legs in land-dwelling animals developed —  all because of an ancient fish called Tiktaalik. 

The creature lived 375 million years ago. It resembled a half-fish, half-crocodile and had both front and hind legs — contrary to previous beliefs after its discovery in 2006. (Via Vimeo / El PaleoFreak


According to LiveScience, "These findings reveal that a key step in the evolution of hind limbs happened in fish, challenging previous theories that such appendages evolved only after the move to land."


Professor Neil Shubin explains movable wrists and necks, similar to our own, evolved from Tiktaalik and its evolutionary ancestors. 

"What's exceptional about this is just how ordinary it is, in the since that it's exactly the intermediary you would likely predict...  The proportions of the head and the bones and so forth are very much like a land living animal and other parts are fish-like." (Via The Royal Institution

Pretty cool, but when it comes down to it, Tiktaalik wasn't exactly a cuddly creature — the fish-crock hybrid was actually pretty creepy. 

It had a mouth full of sharp teeth and could grow up to nine feet long as it hunted in shallow fresh water. In addition to both lungs and gills, its large pelvis aided in its mobility... (Via International Business Times)


A pelvis researchers compare to the African lungfish living today. (Via Discovery