Your Inner Fish

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Your Inner Fish

The beginning of the earth was approximately 4.5 billion years ago. From the very moment that this phenomenon occurred, the process of evolution on this planet began. Evolution is a very complex process involving change in traits over successive generations. Being discussed will be the processes of phylogeny, morphology, and development and the specific roles each play in evolution. The evolutionary process will serve as a road map to our origins as humans and more importantly how we became the complex organisms that we are today.

Professor of Anatomy and world-renowned paleontologist Neil Shubin dates our human origins back to an approximately 375 million-year-old rock discovered on Ellesmere Island. The island was located just east of Greenland and well within the Arctic Circle. What looks to be the oldest land animal was discovered fossilized in that ancient rock. The scientific breakthrough was a species now known as the Tiktallik, the oldest discovered land animal. This significant advancement is a crossover animal that seems to be bridging the gap making animals a common ancestor of fish. The Tiktallik carried the traits making it an almost perfectly intermediate cross between a fish and an amphibian. This suspicious animal’s features include both scales and fins with fin webbing. However, the fins contain the standard limb structure of one upper and two lower arm bones, as well as a wrist. The arm bones seem to have given this creature the ability to move under rocks, possibly to escape from dangerous predators. Other more curious features are the neck of a land animal and a flattened head.

Phylogeny is the history of lineages of organisms as they adjust over the course of time. This process is also known as “The Tree of Life”. This evolutionary tree can genetically relate all species of organisms that are living or dead to a common ancestor. To illustrate, if you think of the root of a tree being the oldest and deepest part of...
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