Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Inuit Elders from Nunavut Help Name Fossil Fish

Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375,000,000 year old fish believed to be the long sought missing link of how fish evolved to a life on land. Scientists uncovered several well preserved skeletons of the fossil fish in stream beds up in the Canadian Arctic 600 miles from the North Pole. The skeletons have the same fins, scales and other attributes of fish that are 4 to 9 feet long. However, on closer examination, the scientists found changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals. These particular fishes' forward fins show evidence of limbs in the making. There are the beginnings of digits, proto-wrists, elbows and shoulders. The fossil fish had necks, ribs, flat skulls resembling a crocodile's and other parts similar to four-legged tetrapods or land animals.

These fossil fish have been named Tiktaalik roseae, at the suggestion of Inuit elders in Nunavut. Tiktaalik (pronounced tic-TAH-lick) means "large shallow water fish." The scientists say the Tiktaalik fossils are the most compelling examples found of fish in transition to tetrapods.

See Nunavut Inuit Art at Free Spirit Gallery.

No comments: