Tetrapod Evolution

Water walker

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Science  01 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6281, pp. 49-50
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6281.49-c

The ancestor of all tetrapods “walked” out of the water millions of years ago. An intriguing idea, but walking out of water is actually quite a biomechanical challenge. Though some fishes are known to use their fins to “walk” underwater, the movement toward a pelvic girdle that could support the weight of an organism's body out of the water has been seen as a tetrapod innovation. Flammang et al. analyzed the pelvic structure and walking kinematics of a rare cave fish, Cryptotora thamicola, which is known to walk up waterfalls using its fins and a tetrapod-like lateral gait, and found remarkable convergence with the tetrapod pelvis. This finding supports the hypothesis that pelvically driven movement on land may have been possible before the evolution of digited limbs.

Sci. Rep. 10.1038/srep23711 (2016).

The waterfall-climbing cave fish uses a tetrapod-like gait to climb waterfalls

PHOTO: DANTÉ FENOLIO/SCIENCE SOURCE

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