For those interested in Tiktaalik, the marvelous new transitional fossil of a fish with limbs, check out this new essay from Neil Shubin, one of the fossil’s discoverers.
That is an excellent article. Me, I’m specifically interested in the transiton from water to land and back (I find “At the Water’s Edge” to be an excellent book, btw).
I haven’t commented on this blog before, btw, although I’ve been reading it for quite some time. Always interesting and informational.
I found the essay interesting in that Neil Shubin is now talking about a continuum, not a defined border, between evolutionary events like the transition to tetrapods. Sounds a lot like S J Gould, if I remember correctly.
This drawing of a fish half in and half out of the water reminds me of an undergraduate experience (45 years ago…).
I took a zoo class titled “Oceanography and Limnology”. Somewhere in the class discussion, a friend pointed out that carp caught from the Austin, Texas sewage ponds were being sold in some of the local grocery stores. Someone asked what the fish were eating and questioned whether they should be safe for humans to consume. After a lot of discussion, about a half dozen of us decided to go to the sewage ponds, catch some carp, and examine their stomach contents.Â
Simple idea, but not so simple to do! We took large fish nets and seined around the edges of some of the ponds. No luck. Wet, smelly, and disgusted we sat down on one of the pond dams (big mounds of soil) to rest and regather our thoughts.Â
Suddenly we were astonished to see some carp wriggle out of the water onto the dirt bank. Now we were in business. All we had to do is post a â€œcarp watcherâ€, sneak behind the dirt dam, and wait. When carp were out on the bank, the watcher yelled and we came rushing over the dam with nets and caught fish.
What were the fish doing? They were breeding. They lay and fertilize egg masses right at the water’s edge. To do this, they have to get most of their body out of the water. They look similar to the drawing of the fossil fish (half in and half our of the water
I wonder if Tiktaalik was one of these “water’s edge” breeders.
By the way, the carp stomachs were full of fecal material from the sewage. People should not have been eating those fish.
A fishapod! And even better, a testable hypothesis, based on evolution, confirmed.
Okay–after some technical difficulties I won’t bore you by recounting, I have an announcement. For the…
Really, it’s not like I’ve discovered a new element or anything. See you tomorrow.
…to spill beans. Any minute now, honest.
…at 5 today. [That's 5 pm EST--sorry for the confusion.]
[Hint...I've turned off the comments till then.]
I’m sure you’d like to pretend that you have nothing in common with a tapeworm.