Fishy arms and legs
Incredible though it may seem, there’ a beautifully camouflaged fish in this picture. An Australian fisherman found it attached to his crab pot when he pulled it up. It was only identified when pictures of it were sent to fish expert Professor Ted Pietsch, from the University of Washington in the United States. The news came back that it was a fish that hadn’t been seen in 100 years, a blackspot anglerfish (Tathicarpus butleri).1
One of the most striking features of this species of anglerfish was its unusual fin structure. The fins look similar to arms and legs, complete with elbows, knees, fingers and toes! However, the joints in the fins and the appendages at the end are not used for walking. Rather, the fins are used for holding onto rocks while waiting for prey.
An important thing to note is that this fish, much like epaulette sharks2 and the handfish,3 is not evidence for the evolution of land vertebrates. Anglerfish are members of the class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish), but modern land vertebrates are supposed to have evolved from members of the class Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish). Rather, it makes it harder for evolution to explain how locomotion would develop twice independently of one another.
Sadly for researchers, the fish was found dead after having leapt out of its tank the day after it was first reported.4
References and notes
- Zemek, S., Susan spits out rare fish, Fraser Coast Chronicle, 22 November 2007, pp. 1, 3. Return to text.
- Doyle, S., Walking sharks: evolution in action? Journal of Creation 21(1):10–11, 2007. Return to text.
- May, K., Rare Australian fish has fins like hands, Creation 28(3):28–29, 2006. Return to text.
- Rare fish climbs to death, Fraser Coast Chronicle, 23 November 2007, p. 1. Return to text.