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The Siberian Times

Is this unnamed Siberian tetrapod the missing link?

By Anna Liesowska
18 October 2013

Scientists discover 'first' creature to move from water to land almost 400 million years ago.

Ventastega curonica, the kind of tetrapod closest to the Siberian one. Art (c) Philip Renne and Per Ahlberg.jpg

An international team guided by experts from the Siberian State Industrial University have found an entirely new type of Ichthyostega, a discovery that has yet to be announced by scientific journals. Fossils show the metre-long tetrapod had a spine and was able to function on land as well as in the water, according to Yaroslav Gutak, head of the department of geology and geodesy at the Novokuznetsk-based university who was working with specialists from the University of Uppsala in Sweden.

And he claims it could have been the first to move from surf to turf, a missing link in the transition of life from water to land. 

'What I can say for sure - this is completely new kind of ancient tetrapod,' he told The Siberian Times. 'Now we will think with our colleagues from Uppsala about the name. It should be something beautiful, something good. We plan to prepare a major article in an international science magazine in the near future.'

He explained that sophisticated French synchrotron imaging costing 11,000 euro a day was used to create a three dimensional model of the ancient tetrapod from the remains found near the village of Ivanovka between Kemerovo and Krasnoyarsk.

Images of the creature are not yet ready to be released, he said, but the pictures shown here are believed to be similar to the Siberian tetrapod.

'We passed the material to Grenoble University and made the research with the help of French government,' he said. 'It was interesting for them to test the method of depth tomography and we get the three-dimensional model - our tetrapod. Currently, we have the 3-D model of the incisive part of the lower jaw and will work further'.

Scientists discover 'first' creature to move from water to land almost 400 million years ago

Scientists discover 'first' creature to move from water to land almost 400 million years ago. Ventastega in artistic image by (c) Kahless28

Such creatures - four legged vertebrates- evolved from fish and having developed limbs and digits underwater, crawled out onto terra ferma some 390 million years ago, giving rise to amphibians, the reptiles and mammals we know today.

'We studied 28 fragments, but there were found of about 300 such fragments during the excavation,' he said. 'We began the research with colleagures from the Laboratory of Developmental Biology at Uppsala University and namely Professor Per Ahlberg in 2010. 

'It was the project 'Early Tetrapods of Siberia'. They were interested in where they could find the traces of ancient tetrapods and I knew the mountains of Sayan, Altai and Kuznetskiy Alatau since 1978.

'I know the places where such remains may be found. So we undertook a joint expedition in 2011, collected material and in 2012 began to work with this collection.'

Aknowledging that tetrapods have been found the world over, he said: 'Why should Siberia not become the homeland for the first land animals? At the time we were almost a separate continent, surrounded by the sea, so anything is possible."

Reports citing him stated: 'Scientists say with certainty that some 350 million years ago the overland life of Devonian period originated precisely in Siberia.'

Such creatures have been linked to the Coelacanth, a giant "living fossil" fish with limb-like fins which was thought to be extinct until its discovery off Africa in 1938. The fish remains much as it was 300 million years ago, as if time stood still in the evolution process.

Comments (1)

I'd like to read more information on their discovery, and looking forward for the publication mentioned in this article
Tim, Wales
20/10/2013 12:47
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