Aquatic and Land Animal Diversity


Does a connection between fish and humans exist?

Besides the obvious answer—yes, many people eat fish—researchers are also currently working on one puzzling possible connection: Did humans evolve from fish? In 2013, scientists decoded the genome of the coelacanth, a “living fossil” that resembles fossil fish that existed about 300 million years ago. Between the coelacanth and the lungfish (an air-breathing freshwater fish)—both with lobed fins that look like limbs—scientists are trying to see which animal may be closer to the first ancestral fish that used their fins to walk on land. Whatever the creatures were, they gave rise to the tetrapods—all the vertebrate animals from reptiles and birds—and to mammals, such as humans. Scientists label lobe-finned fish like the coelacanth and lungfish as sarcopterygians (“fleshy fins”); tetrapods, including humans, are descended from the sarcopterygians—and thus, the coelacanth is probably more closely related to people than to other fish!


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