The Tech Herald

Discovery of fish with fingers gives evolution new twist

by Rich Bowden - Sep 22 2008, 01:52

Img: Artist's impression of panderichthys. Credit: D.Bogdanov.

Swedish scientists studying a fish that lived 385 million years ago have made a remarkable discovery that pushes back knowledge as to when fingers and toes first evolved.

It has been long-believed that the first creatures to develop fingers were tetrapods as they made their way from sea to living on land around 10 to 20 million years later.

However, a study by scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden, which has been published in the journal Nature, has shown an early form of finger structure was already present inside the fins of an ancient fish called Panderichthys, which lived mostly in mud pools and rivers and grew to around four feet (130 cms) in length.

"For a long time, we thought that fingers were a novelty for tetrapods," said lead researcher Catherine Boisvert, an evolutionary biologist at Uppsala University.

"In the past two years, some evidence has come forward to make us doubt. It's really the last piece of evidence to say fingers are not new. They were really present in fish," she added.

The precursor to fingers was hidden behind the skin and scales of the fish, which probably used them for support rather than all-out swimming, claimed the team.

"It was probably using its front fins as supports to be able to look up, kind of doing push-ups at the bottom of the river looking outside with its eyes," Boisvert said.

The study is a landmark in evolutionary biology, with its confirmation that fingers were already developing in fish prior to their move to land.

"It is an important piece of evidence for the evolution of fish to tetrapods and how 'we' transformed from fish to land animals," said Boisvert.

Around the Web

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus

From Autosaur.com

Miami Formula E Tickets On Sale Now

Tickets for the first US race in the Formula E calendar — Miami — are on sale now.The ePrix&...

Our Most Popular Car Games Of 2014

It’s that time of year when we take stock of where we’re at and button down the hatches over...

Monster Truck World Speed Record Broken By The Raminator

The monster truck speed record has been broken by road-going goliath The Raminator.The truck...

Car Games Update – December 2014

Our car games section is constantly growing and becoming more popular by the day. Over the p...

The Mind-blowing 2015 BMW 6 Series (PICTURES)

Here’s a great selection of pictures of the new 2015 BMW 6 Series to salivate over. The new ...