Shift to shore: New model shows extinct tetrapod Ichthyostega couldn’t walk
by Kate Trinajstic, Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Chem. at Curtin Univ.
Palaeontology has gone high-tech: no more wax and plaster-cast models. Instead, 3D data from computed tomography (CT) scans is overturning long-held views of how the earliest land animals moved.
Research published today (May 23, 2012) in Nature reveals how a famous extinct animal, the early four-legged vertebrate (tetrapod) called Ichthyostega, moved on land 360m years ago.
One major problem in putting together fossil skeletons is actually getting the fossil out of the rock, but now palaeontologists don’t have to! Instead, the CT scans allow the virtual preparation of the fossil so delicate bones can be fully isolated and then fitted together so the anatomy can be better understood.
It was this process that has allowed scientists (Stephanie E. Pierce and Professor John R. Hutchinson from the UK’s Royal Veterinary College and Professor Jennifer A. Clack from the University of Cambridge) to overturn long held assumptions on how one of the earliest tetrapods moved from the water on to land…
(read more: PhysOrg) (image: T - Julia Molnar, B - Stephanie Pierce)