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Article: "It's a Fishapod!"


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.

The article provides background information to the film, filling in additional details about Shubin's Arctic adventure. It also serves as non-fiction reading for the Common Core standards.

Appropriate for: all levels of high school and undergraduate biology.

Curriculum Connections:

MS Performance Expectations: MS-LS4-2

HS Performance Expectations: HS-LS4-1, LS4-2, LS4-4, LS4-5, HS-ESS1-5
HS Core Disciplinary Ideas: LS4.A, LS4.B, LS4.C, HS-ESS2.B

AP (2012–13)
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 1.A.4, 1.B.1, 1.C.1, 1.C.3, 1.D.2, 4.B.3, 4.B.4

IB (2009)
5.4, D2, D5

Supporting Materials (4)

Click & Learn
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.
Video: Clips
Neil Shubin brought the fossil of Tiktaalik to his daughter’s first grade class to see what the students would make of it.
Film Guides
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.
Short Film
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.

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