One of the most exciting discoveries in the long history of fossil exploration is Tiktaalik, a creature with a mix of features common to fish and four-legged animals, or tetrapods.
The following classroom-ready resources complement Great Transitions: The Origin of Tetrapods, which tells the story of the discovery of Tiktaalik, a creature with features common to fish and four-legged animals, or tetrapods.
This article by Sean B. Carroll tells the story of the search for and discovery of Tiktaalik, an animal with a mix of fish and tetrapod features—a fishapod! It supplements the short film Great Transitions: The Origin of Tetrapods, starring Neil Shubin.
Neil Shubin brought the fossil of Tiktaalik to his daughter’s first grade class to see what the students would make of it.
The fossils of transitional creatures were key evidence for Darwin’s evolutionary theory, but none had been found when he published On the Origin of Species. Now, there are many examples of such fossils, which clearly show that big evolutionary leaps consist of many smaller steps.
Which traits distinguish humans from other primates? When and where did these traits evolve? Analysis of the major fossil finds from Africa, dating back to 4.4 million years ago, provides answers to these questions and reveal the history of our evolutionary origins.