Fossil Fish Fingers

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Fossil fish fingers found, according to reports in Nature advance online publication 21 September 2008, ABC News in Science 22 Sep 2008 and ScienceDaily 23 September 2008. One of the differences between fish and animals that live on land is the presence of fingers in the limbs. Scientists from Uppsala University, Sweden and Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia, have studied the fossil of an extinct fish named Panderichthys and found that it has four tiny bones in its fin, arrayed like fingers. Catherine Boisvert of Uppsala University explained: "This was the key piece of the puzzle that confirms that rudimentary fingers were already present in the ancestors of tetrapods." The ABC article describes the fish as “a transitional species that was nonetheless more fish than tetrapod.”

ABC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: This creature was clearly a fish, and as it is extinct, we don’t know how it used its fins or the little bones that have been labelled as “fingers”. The scientists should learn from the claims made about the coelacanth – a fish once claimed to be a transitional form from fish to land animal because of its fin structure. It was thought to have used it fins to walk on the sea bed. When living coelacanths were found they turned out to be deep water fish that used their fins to swim, and they rarely touch the seabed. In the same way it makes more sense to assume that Panderichthys had these bones in its limbs because it needed them to be a fish, not because it was turning into another kind of creature. (Ref. ichthyology, fossils, locomotion)

Evidence News 29 October 2008

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