January 19, 2008

Fossilized Darwin Fish Discovered

Tiktaalik roseae -- a 375-million-year-old fossilized "fishapod" discovered on Ellesmere Island in 2004 -- has been hailed as an "evolutionary icon" because it represents the crucial transition from sea to land for some of the Earth's most primitive creatures.The discovery was announced amid global fanfare in 2006, and Tiktaalik is now the showcase species in a report released last week by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to promote the study of evolution and counter calls for U.S. schools to teach creationism.

Now Neil Shubin, the University of Chicago biologist who discovered the High Arctic fossil, is poised to release a populist recounting of his Canadian find -- Your Inner Fish -- in which he traces the primordial origins of the human race to such lowly creatures.

"It is far worse for Huckabee. Before apes, his ancestors were fish, worms, and other creatures," Mr. Shubin told Canwest News Service yesterday. "With jaw bones that correspond to gill bones in fish and sharks, a body plan shared with headless worms, and with parts of a DNA recipe shared with relatives of jellyfish, Huckabee's ties to some of the most humble forms of life on our planet run deep indeed."

The planned launch of Your Inner Fish next Tuesday has already prompted a prediction from the leading U.S. evolutionary scientist Don Johanson -- co-discoverer of Lucy, the "missing-link" ape -- that "creationists will want this book banned" because it so convincingly discredits their world view.

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