Tetrapods' old age revealed

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 Acanthostegagunnari, an early tetrapodImage: Wikimedia commons, linkurl:Nobu Tamura;http://www.palaeocritti.com "This is a very important discovery," said paleontologist Philippe Janvier of the linkurl:Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle;http://www.m

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Jan 5, 2010
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
gunnari
, an early tetrapod

Image: Wikimedia commons,
linkurl:Nobu Tamura;http://www.palaeocritti.com
"This is a very important discovery," said paleontologist Philippe Janvier of the linkurl:Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle;http://www.mnhn.fr/museum/foffice/transverse/transverse/accueil.xsp 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;http://www.uu.se/ and his colleagues identified numerous footprints and trackways of what...
NatureThe Scientist


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