The first land animals walked like seals

The first reconstruction in 3D from a four-legged animal skeleton reveals that the first animals on Earth moved like seals.

One of the animals studied has been a fierce-looking beast known as Ichthyostega. He lived for about 374 to 359 million years and was a species in transition between fish and land animals.

It is believed that Ichthyostega He swam in the shallow waters of the swamps, probably attracted to food. Now you know that they moved crawling with their front legs as support, Like a Boleophthalmus dussumieri.

The findings are published in the journal. Nature.

The lead author of the study, Stephanie Pierce, of the Department of Zoology of the University of Cambridge, as quoted in a press release:

The results of this study force us to rewrite the book on the evolution of the spine in the first animals with limbs

Pierce and his colleagues bombarded the first 360 million-year-old tetrapod fossils with a high dose of synchrotron radiation. The result was high resolution images that allowed researchers rebuild skeletons of extinct animals With exceptional detail.

Today, all four-limb animals have a backbone, consisting of many bone segments, called vertebrae, all connected in a row from head to tail or back.

Unlike the backbone of tetrapods like humans, in which each vertebra is a single bone, the first tetrapods had multi-part vertebrae.

For over 100 years, the first tetrapods were thought to have vertebrae composed of three sets of bones; a bone in front, one at the top, and a pair behind. But looking inside the fossils, using synchrotron X-rays, we have discovered that the traditional view was literally the opposite

Pierce communicated.

The team of scientists discovered that what was believed to be the first bone, known as the intercentrum, is actually the last of the series.

By understanding how the bones of the vertebra fit together, we can begin to explore the mobility of the spine and test the way in which it transferred forces to the other members during the early stages of the earth movement

Pierce concludes.

The next phase of the investigation will study how the spine was used for locomotion in the first tetrapods.