Tetrapods pushed back 18 million years

The oldest tracks of four-legged animals have been discovered in Poland.

Rocks from a disused quarry record the “footprints” of unknown creatures that lived about 397 million years ago.

Scientists tell the journal Nature that the fossil trackways even retain the impressions left by the “toes” on the animals’ feet.

The team says the find means that land vertebrates appeared millions of years earlier than previously supposed.

This is especially interesting because Tiktaalik was discovered by Neil Shubin based upon a lack of land animals 390 million years ago but a prevalence 360 million years ago. He specifically looked for a place likely to have fossils that was 375 million years old in order to discover his transitional fossil. This new information doesn’t mean that he just got lucky – one would still expect to find transitional forms prior to true land animals – but a little luck was involved. (It was actually involved no matter what he wanted to find and when he wanted to find it because fossilization is so rare anyway.)

One important fact to note about Tiktaalik is that it likely lived in freshwater. This is key because a marine environment is less conducive to a full move onto land than a freshwater lake or river, and Tiktaalik shows evidence that it is closely related to later fully land animals. Think about it for a moment and it becomes obvious: you need to be able to drink freshwater, not salt water, in order to fully utilize the land. If your ancestors lived in freshwater, then the first transition has been made for you. That means the owners of these newly discovered footprints represent a transition of sorts, but they were still very much tied to a marine life, unlike Shubin’s discovery.

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12 Responses

  1. So if Tiktaalik was swimming around 375 million years ago, and mystery tetrapod was running around 397 million years ago, Ttktaalik wouldn’t be much a of a ‘transitional’ would he?

    On another note, I always enjoy articles where scientists are constantly ‘suprised’ at there findings (as in: “”I suspect that now we can push the divergence back to the Emsian stage, maybe 400 million years ago. That’s surprising…”). One wonders if the theory of evolution is so certain why findings consistently confound it’s expectations?

  2. It just shows how science is not about “being right,” but about discovering what is true. The fact that scientists can declare, unabashedly, without concern for damaged pride, even somewhat gleefully, that some fact or view that had long been accepted as scientifically “true” has been completely overturned and refuted, shows that they are only concerned with one thing, and one thing only: the quest for knowledge that they pursue with an unquenchable thirst for truth.

  3. It just shows how science is not about “being right,” but about discovering what is true. The fact that scientists can declare, unabashedly, without concern for damaged pride, even somewhat gleefully, that some fact or view that had long been accepted as scientifically “true” has been completely overturned and refuted, shows that they are only concerned with one thing, and one thing only: the quest for knowledge that they pursue with an unquenchable thirst for truth.

    The day an evolutionist admits wrong in light of contradictory evidence like the above, I will glady agree with you.

  4. These footprints likely belonged to marine animals whereas Tiktaalik lived in freshwater.

  5. More evidence for a global flood.

  6. There’s another explanation for this, overlap. Just because fully terrestrial animals have appeared in one place does not mean transitional forms are going to disappear everywhere else.

  7. There’s another explanation for this, overlap. Just because fully terrestrial animals have appeared in one place does not mean transitional forms are going to disappear everywhere else.

    I know that is the typical rejoinder in such cases, but if there were creatures crawling about the land 18 million years before Tiktaalik, while he may have been a transitional, there doesn’t seem to be any longer any reason to believe he was in fact a transitional from fish to tetrapod.

  8. There are “transitional fossils” crawling around in mudflaps today for crying out loud!

  9. There are “transitional fossils” crawling around in mudflaps today for crying out loud!

    Well of course – we are all transitional, aren’t we?

  10. :chuckle:

  11. [...] the news isn’t being reported with nearly the zest as the supposed transitional find. And evolutionists are already dissembling, acting as if this is really no big deal in the ultimately. But the question has to be asked, if [...]

  12. [...] was some good stories from this month, but I can only focus on a couple. One of my favorites was the discovery that pushed tetrapod evolution back 18 million years. This was a quantitative change – not a qualitative one. That means that the discovery did [...]

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