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Meet Tiktaalik roseae: An Extraordinary Fossil Fish

Could Tiktaalik walk or live on land?

It's very unlikely that Tiktaalik lived entirely on land. Based on the structure of its front fin and its shoulder, we know that it was capable of swimming and propping itself up in a push-up position. From this we can infer that Tiktaalik lived most of its life in the shallow water close to shore, using its strong front fins to push along the bottom and stabilize it in moving water. But the front fin's limited range of motion would have prevented Tiktaalik from swinging its fins forward to walk the way an amphibian does.

Tiktaalik most likely inhabited shallow streams, using its fins to push off the bottom

Living in the shallows would have been a good strategy for survival for several reasons. First, it was a convenient way to escape the huge carnivorous fish that lived in the deeper waters. It also probably helped Tiktaalik, who was a predator as well, pursue some of the smaller fish hiding in the shallows and the bug-like critters inhabiting the dense foliage banking the rivers and streams.

How did scientists find Tiktaalik?