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Meet Tiktaalik roseae: An Extraordinary Fossil Fish

Tiktaalik roseae is remarkably well preserved for a 375-million-year old fossil

Tiktaalik roseae

Tiktaalik roseae, better known as the "fishapod," is a 375 million year old fossil fish which was discovered in the Canadian Arctic in 2004. Its discovery sheds light on a pivotal point in the history of life on Earth: when the very first fish ventured out onto land.

Tiktaalik has a mix of fish and amphibian traits

Tiktaalik looks like a cross between the primitive fish it lived amongst and the first four-legged animals (a group called "tetrapods" from tetra-, meaning four, and -pod, meaning foot. Actually, all animals that descended from these pioneer amphibians, including us, can be called tetrapods). Tiktaalik lived about 12 million years before the first tetrapods (which are approximately 363 million years old). So, the existence of tetrapod features in a fish like Tiktaalik is significant because it marks the earliest appearance of these novel features in the fossil record.

See Tiktaalik's mix of fish and amphibian features