Human Hands Likely Evolved From the Fins of Fish
Sat, April 10, 2021

Human Hands Likely Evolved From the Fins of Fish

 

There was a time when fishes ruled the world. It would take another 150 million years before dinosaurs finally dominated Earth. Thus, it’s important that scientists learn how fishes during those eras lived, not only to understand those species but also humans.

 

Credits: Live Science

 

Evidence of Elpistostege watsoni, a 5.1-foot-long (1.6 meters) fish, was first found in 1938 in the cliffs of Miguasha National Park in Quebec, Canada. But, it was only in 2010 that a complete specimen was discovered. Benoît Cantin, a Miguasha park warden-naturalist, found the majority of the fossil on the beach, while different pieces of the tail were found by two tourists. Lead researcher Richard Cloutier, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Quebec, stated that the fossils were the longest ever found in the Escuminac Formation. 

 

Credits: Live Science

 

The Elpistostege fossil was over 380 million years old when it was found. The researchers used a high-energy CT (computed tomography) scan at The University of Texas at Austin to analyze the fish, where they were able to produce a digital image of the fossil that they could rotate, magnify, and study. The team had been particularly focused on the fish's front fins which had precursors of vertebrate fingers and arms. This includes the humerus (arm), radius and ulna (forearm), rows of carpus (wrist), and phalanges organized in digits (fingers).

"This is the first time that we have unequivocally discovered fingers locked in a fin with fin-rays in any known fish. The articulating digits in the fin are like the finger bones found in the hands of most animals,” study senior author John Long, a professor in paleontology at Flinders University, said in a statement.

 

Credits: Live Science

 

According to Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history, one of the findings of the study suggest that human hands likely evolved, eventually, from the fins of Elpistostege. Cloutier stated that the fossil "clarifies the question about the transition between fish and four-legged animals," known as tetrapods. "It is the first time that digits, as seen in tetrapods, are found in a fin covered by scales and fin rays, as seen in fishes,” he added. 

 

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