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The Search for Tiktaalik

geological map of north america

Our search brought us to the Canadian Arctic

It just so happens that of the three Devonian freshwater deposits in North America, only one was completely unexplored: the Canadian Arctic. So the team set their sites on organizing an expedition. That was in 1999.

STEP 4: Plan an expedition to the most promising site!

The first years were largely unsuccessful. As it turns out, they set down too far west, in what used to be an ancient ocean. All they found were marine fossils. So the following years, they moved east until they located the right sediments. In 2000, they found a site laden with interesting fish pieces and began digging. A wealth of complete fish skeletons started to emerge. Each year they returned and dug a little deeper. Ultimately, the site produced Tiktaalik in 2004. Not only was it exciting to find a new species, but it was made all the better by the fact that scientists had predicted the existence of a creature like this all along. We only needed to do some detective work to find it. Another affirmation of our theory!

What goes into planning an expedition?