Scientists discover a missing link
Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375 million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought “missing link” in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.
A model of the 375 million-year-old fish, which exhibits changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals.
In addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution, the fossils are widely seen by scientists as a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who hold a literal biblical view on the origins and development of life.
Several well-preserved skeletons of the fossil fish were uncovered in sediments of former stream beds in the Canadian Arctic, 600 miles from the North Pole, it is being reported on Thursday in the journal Nature. The skeletons have the fins and scales and other attributes of a giant fish, four to nine feet long.
But on closer examination, scientists found telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but exhibiting changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals â€” a predecessor thus of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans.
The scientists described evidence in the forward fins of limbs in the making. There are the beginnings of digits, proto-wrists, elbows and shoulders. The fish also had a flat skull resembling a crocodile’s, a neck, ribs and other parts that were similar to four-legged land animals known as tetrapods.
Or as comedian Lewis Black says, regarding the battle between evolutionary science and “intelligent design”: “We’ve got fossils. We win.”