This “walking fish” had been studied by researches at McGill University as a basis to help explain the evolution of these terrestrial ancestors. The findings will shock you. They show significant clues that reflect how ancient fish were able to transition to land-based habitats. This ultimately led to the development of modern amphibians, birds, mammals and eventually reptiles.
The scientists examined this African fish, Polypterus senegalus. Not only can this fish walk on land, it can also breathe the air. Over a year, these juvenile Polypterus specimens were raised on the land and adapted to the environment successfully.
This “territorialized” fish showed drastic changes in locomotion and overall anatomy. Their pectoral skeletons stretched while their chest attachments bolstered to give more support when they move. Furthermore, these changes created greater motion in their neck and head.
Through observation the fish positioned their fins near their bodies and raised their heads up. When these Polypertus fish that were nurtured on land compare to those that were raised in water, it was found that the territorialized fish were very proficient in walking as their fins would slip down frequently.
Different environmental stressors often cause anatomical and behavioural changes as this observation highlighted. These changes correspond with their fossil record. This is a large scale evolutionary transition that show their ability to become genetically fixed due to natural selection.