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Weird fish fossil changes the story of how we moved onto land

Weird fish fossil changes the story of how we moved onto land

New Scientist

Image: Brian Choo

The evolutionary story we have written to explain our ancestors’ move from sea to land may need a rethink. A fossil fish from this era has been discovered with several of the features of land animals – yet it was only distantly related to them.

Roughly 360 million years ago, one group of lobe-finned fish began evolving into four-legged, land-living animals that resulted in reptiles, amphibians and mammals like us.

Fossils have revealed many of the stages in this iconic evolutionary event. The evolutionary tree of species involved in the switch from sea to land has remained stable since the late 20th century, even as new fossils have come to light.

However, a fossil discovered in a quarry in Ningxia, north China, now threatens that stability. It was discovered in 2002 by Min Zhu at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing and Per Ahlberg at Uppsala University in Sweden. Read more on newscientist.com…