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Fossil find suggests evolutionary milestone

Published on Jan 15, 2014 5:58 AM
 
This image obtained on Jan 14, 2014 courtesy of Neil Shubin at the University of Chicago, shows an updated illustration of Tiktaalik roseae in its natural environment. A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said the well-preserved pelves and partial pelvic fin of a Tiktaalik roseae indicated that hind legs actually began as hind fins. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A 375 million-year-old fossil has shed new light on the theory of evolution, challenging the widespread view that large hind appendages first appeared after vertebrates transitioned from the water to land.

A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said the well-preserved pelves and partial pelvic fin of a Tiktaalik roseae - which looked like a cross between a crocodile and a fish - indicated that hind legs actually began as hind fins.

First discovered in 2004, Tiktaalik roseae are the best-known transitional species which bridged the leap between fish and land-dwelling tetrapods.

Studies of the species had previously indicated that the creature grew up to nine feet in length and hunted in shallow freshwater environments.

 
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