Fossil Provides More Insight into Water-to-Land Evolution

June 26, 2008 05:00 PM
by Liz Colville
In Latvia, scientists have uncovered the fossil remains of Ventastega, a creature with a fishlike body, four flippers and a land-adapted head.

30-Second Summary

The fossil remains of a creature known as Ventastega curonica were discovered in Latvia. Professors of Uppsala University, Sweden, published their findings about the discovery in Nature. The creature’s head was that of a land animal, while its body retained characteristics that made it “habitually aquatic,” writes the BBC.

Ventastega, like the Tiktaalik (“walking fish”) discovered in Canada in 2004, is a transitional link between fish and land mammals. Ventastega, which existed approximately 365 million years ago, is a later but more primitive species.

Lead author Per Ahlberg told the BBC that from a distance, Ventastega “would have looked like an alligator. But closer up, you would have noticed a real tail fin at the back end, a gill flap at the side of the head; also lines of pores snaking across head and body.”

The published research is one of several recent studies of transitional animals.

A recently published map of the platypus genome has also provided various insights into mammalian evolution.

Headline Link: ‘Fossil fills out water-land leap’

Background: Fish with feet

Related Topic: Scientists study platypus genome


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