Newly discovered tetrapod footprints suggest that the evolution of limbed vertebrates may have occurred nearly 20 million years earlier than scientists previously believed, according to a study published this week in Nature.
Pencil drawing of Acanthostega
, an early tetrapod

Image: Wikimedia commons,
linkurl:Nobu Tamura;
"This is a very important discovery," said paleontologist Philippe Janvier of the linkurl:Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle; in Paris, France, who did not participate in the research. "Up to now, we thought the divergence between tetrapods and lobe-finned fish was in the period called the Givetian that was about 390 million years ago at the latest. But this was really a big step back in time -- it implies that the evolution of limbs with digits appeared much earlier." Working in the Holy Cross Mountains of southeastern Poland, paleontologist Per Ahlberg of linkurl:Uppsala University; and his colleagues identified numerous footprints and trackways of what...
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