When this fish developed the ability to walk on land, it said “nope” and returned to the sea.

A picture of Tiktaalik roseae (left) and Qikiqtania wakei (middle) in the water. hide caption Alex Boersma
switch to caption Image by Alex Boersma A picture of Tiktaalik roseae (left) and Qikiqtania wakei (middle) in the water.
Astrid Boersma You may have seen a meme with the prehistoric fish Tiktaalik.

The green, eel-like creature is depicted crawling out of the water roughly 375 million years ago, around the period fish are believed to have gained the morphological traits necessary to thrive on land, only to be told to turn around by the camera.

As far as the meme is concerned, the jest is that the fish should immediately dive back into the ocean to escape the problems of our contemporary world.

Now, a new study published in Nature claims that Qikiqtania wakei, a relative of Tiktaalik, did exactly that.
I’m not sure who made it, but yes. pic.twitter.com/JhxAACkTDu

Matthew Cobb December 7, 2021 (@matthewcobb) “Fish had been evolving to walk in a sequence, but this one stated, “Eh, not going to do that one.” I’m returning in,” “said Neil Shubin, a co-author of the study and a paleontologist at the University of Chicago.

During a trip to the Canadian Arctic in 2004, Shubin was a member of the group that found Tiktaalik. Despite being discovered on the same expedition, Qikiqtania received little attention as the team concentrated on Tiktaalik.

“The new species is closely related to the Tiktaalik. Looking at all the features, we can see that “said Shubin. In actuality, it is extremely distantly related to both tiktaalik and so-called tetrapods, or animals with four legs, four arms, and four toes.

According to Shubin, early tetrapods were probably spending an increasing amount of time on land around this time. These animals could have supported themselves in shallow water and survived on mudflats because of the way their fins’ bones and joints were beginning to resemble arms and legs.

Qikiqtania’s physiology, according to Tom Stewart, an evolutionary biologist at Penn State who was also involved in the study, indicated that it was swimming in open water. The swimming ancestors of Qikiqtania developed fins as a result of crawling onto land before diving back into the ocean.

He commented, “That’s an odd pattern. Before there was a fossil like this, that couldn’t have been predicted.

An image shows a digital reconstruction of a fossilized pectoral fin from Qikiqtania wakei. hide caption Tom Stewart
switch to caption Image: Tom Stewart An image shows a digital reconstruction of a fossilized pectoral fin from Qikiqtania wakei.

TOM SMITH The research broadens paleontologists’ comprehension of this time in evolutionary history by demonstrating that animals weren’t merely transitioning from aquatic fish to terrestrial tetrapods.

According to Shubin, “the change from life in the water to life on land was moving both ways.”
The long-debunked yet persistent idea that evolution is a linear progression from one species to the next is vividly refuted by qikiqtania.

“Images like an ape that slowly stands upright and then generates a man walking,” Stewart remarked, “provide us an introduction to the idea of evolution.” “Those are some of these traditional, iconic teaching strategies, but evolution doesn’t actually operate that way,”

Shubin claimed that rather than a ladder, the best way to explain evolution is as a series of branching routes. Shubin claimed that rather than being a tree of species progressing in a single direction, evolution is more like a bush.

From here, we’ll watch to see how the memes change.

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