Fossil find suggests evolutionary milestone
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.