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Amphibious Ancestors

Vertebrates' transition to dry land took some fancy footwork

By
10:05am, June 13, 2006

Imagine a scale-covered fish that uses fleshy limbs that end in fins to haul itself out of the water. Its mosaic of body features also includes sturdy ribs, the first vertebrate neck, and both gills and lungs. Paleontologists recently unearthed fossils of such a creature, which met their expectations for a proposed missing link between fish and the earliest land vertebrates. These relics derive from an era that corresponds to a 9-million-year gap in the vertebrate fossil record.

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