Scientist heads to Nunavut to find fish with legs


There are millions of species of animals in Canada, but a U.S. scientists is looking for a very specific one: a fish with legs.

This might sound strange, but if he succeeds, it won't be the first limbed-fish he's discovered in the Canadian Arctic.

Dr. Ted Daeschler is a paleontologist from Philadelphia who specializes in vertebrate paleontology. He and his colleague from the University of Chicago, Neil Shubin, have been trekking Nunavut since 1999, exploring the peculiar area where it's thought fish evolved into creatures with limbs.

Nunavut's terrain is ideal for this kind of research since it contains rock from the Devonian period which is when scientists believe fish first left the water.

Daeschler and his colleague made their first big break in their study of this evolution of fish in 2004 when they discovered skeletons of creatures they named Tiktaalik roseae. You can see Daeschler talk about this creature here:

Now Daeschler and Shubin are returning to the High Arctic in search of more proof that this spot in Canada is where fish changed into creatures capable of navigating land over 365 million years ago.

The team will drop in by helicopter to a previously unexplored region of Devon Island. It's a remote area where only a solar-powered satellite phone will keep them in touch with the outside world, they don't have to worry about running out of daylight. At this time of year, there is no darkness in the Arctic.

If you're keen on following along, Daeschler's will updating his progress in his blog.

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