Tiktaalik was found in the Canadian Arctic, at approximately 78° North latitude. The climate is extremely harsh for all but a few weeks of each year. During this time, the ground only thaws 6 inches below the surface, making it very difficult for large plants to grow. Consequently, there are no trees or even bushes in the high Arctic. Instead, there is tundra: a landscape of mosses, lichen, and hardy grasses that can cope with the short growing seasons and harsh temperatures.

It follows then, that the animals in the Arctic must be specially adapted to extreme cold and long periods without a lot of food. Average winter temperatures are -28°C (-18.4°F) and since there are no trees, winds can reach speeds of 48-96 km/hr (30-60 mph). With such harsh conditions, it makes sense that there are only a few specially adapted animals living in the Arctic today.

How then is it possible that we're finding tropical species like Tiktaalik in the rocks of the Arctic?




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