September 22, 2010

First "fishapod" has Inuit name

In the What Darwin Never Knew episode of NOVA, much is made of Tiktaalik. It's one of the first creatures to emerge from the ocean and walk on land.

TiktaalikTiktaalik (pronounced /tɪkˈtɑːlɨk/) is a genus of extinct sarcopterygian (lobe-finned) fish from the late Devonian period, with many features akin to those of tetrapods (four-legged animals). It is an example from several lines of ancient sarcopterygian fish developing adaptations to the oxygen-poor shallow-water habitats of its time, which led to the evolution of amphibians. Well-preserved fossils were found in 2004 on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada.

Tiktaalik lived approximately 375 million years ago. Paleontologists suggest that it is representative of the transition between fish such as Panderichthys, known from fossils 380 million years old, and early tetrapods such as Acanthostega and Ichthyostega, known from fossils about 365 million years old. Its mixture of fish and tetrapod characteristics led one of its discoverers, Neil Shubin, to characterize Tiktaalik as a "fishapod."

The name Tiktaalik is an Inuktitut word meaning "burbot," a freshwater fish related to true cod. The "fishapod" genus received this name after a suggestion by Inuit elders of Canada's Nunavut Territory, where the fossil was discovered.
Comment:  Every land animal is descended from Tiktaalik or a similar creature. In other words, it's one of your ancestors, people. Honor thy father, mother, and Tiktaalik!

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

Below:  "Life restoration of Tiktaalik roseae made for the National Science Foundation."

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