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A New Theory Emerges for Where Some Fish Became 4-limbed Creatures

Published: December 28, 2011.
By University of Oregon

A small fish crawling on stumpy limbs from a shrinking desert pond is an icon of can-do spirit, emblematic of a leading theory for the evolutionary transition between fish and amphibians. "Remains of drying ponds and desert soils also are known and are littered with fossil fish, but none of our distant ancestors. By this new woodland hypothesis, the limbs and necks, which distinguish salamanders from fish, did not arise from reckless adventure in deserts, but rather were nurtured by a newly evolved habitat of humid, wooded floodplains.

"Ancient soils and sediments at sites for transitional fossils around the world are critical for understanding when and under what conditions fish first walked," Retallack said.

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