Fish Take A Hike: Is This How Land Animals Came About?

Written by Manon Verchot

Make way for the fish! Scientists reared 111 walking fish on land to see how they would compare to fish raised in water.

The fish, a species called the Senegal bichir or “dinosaur fish,” were selected as test subjects because of their walking ability; they have functional lungs and strong fins to pull them from one body of water to another. Scientists say this study will give us insight about the evolution of walking.

Fish raised out of the water walked better than those raised in water. They slipped less, raised their head higher and propelled themselves forward more effectively. Lead author Emily Standen called this a “more effective gait.” Their skeletal structure also changed, making it easier for their heads and fins to move around.

“This is the first example we know of that demonstrates developmental plasticity may have facilitated a large-scale evolutionary transition,” Hans Larsson of McGill University said in a press release.

In other words, being raised out of water changed some of the developmental features of the bichir, even though they were genetically similar to the fish raised in water. They changed their structure and behavior based on their environment – to an extent that scientists had never observed before. This discovery will help scientists understand how the first fish to walk out of water 400 million years ago eventually became tetrapods – four footed animals.

Apparently, fish don’t need sunscreen, they need shoes.

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

Photo credit: Youtube screenshot


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G2 years ago

thank you

Angev GERIDONI2 years ago

Pétropolis : now you can help the sanctuary that is home to farm animals, victims of exploitation, of abuse, and all kinds of cruelty. Some comes from Pétropolis some from other places around this city. Today there are 150 lucky animals, please give, for keeping them and to rescue other ones : ♥ Fairy sanctuary - or - ♥ Doe

Thank you for sharing

Angev GERIDONI2 years ago

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions : ♞ Care 2 - and - ♞


Liliana Garcia
Liliana Garcia2 years ago

If they already have lungs then they are on their way already to live on land. Those raised on land would probably practice the new motor skills more and so it stands to reason they would fare better than the group not allowed to practice on land. No big deal. What would have been interesting to me is if they having a choice to survive in either medium, how would the choices have looked in terms of preference. That would tell us if the next evolutionary step was really taking place. BTW, Jeaneen A has a pt. I expect these little darlings were returned to their habitats and not just killed after the research paper was done.

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rush2 years ago

Benjamin Franklin said:

'To follow by faith alone, is to follow blindly'.

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rush2 years ago

We are watching evolution, in real time.
This is something about which our ancestors had no knowledge.

Isabel Araujo
Isabel Araujo2 years ago

Thank you for sharing the interesting informatipn.

Ron G.
Ron A G2 years ago

I can understand everyone's point on money appropriation being illogical, but many want to punish science like it is a waste. NASA provided us with priceless information, and science in general has made heart bypass possible among other procedures. To the contrary, religion is used as a tool to debunk science. Why? Science is disproving religious doctrine used to control people. I don't hear many wnting to stop religion. I don't either. If you believe believe for yourself but don't prohibit science which is more than just old stories to a guy like me. What is taken as religious law is shown to be so short-sighted. Open the mind to include both. I have a question regarding those humans that I know born with webbed fingers and toes. I can ask that answer from science but not of religion. In olden days, religion might have had those with "deformities" banished or even eliminated. I cite Salem witchcraft as my example just off hand. I find it more possible that evolution is the beginning of human existence as we know it. Why can't that be religiously possible as well? Because a unsubstantiated God supposedly created us superior beings in his image? Sorry, I'll take science.

M. M.
M. M2 years ago