An article discussing early tetrapods in last week’s Science Magazine

06 Feb

I was reading through last week’s issue of Science magazine this evening and discovered an interesting summary of some work done by Philip Anderson at UMass, Amherst. He has been studying how early tetrapods (like Tiktaalik) may have struggled with eating while on land because they still had heads and jaws specialized for feeding in the water. “With fishlike mouths, early tetrapods would have faced a difficult task eating on land.” 1Image

He and others have wondered what these animals ate, where they hunted (land or sea) and how they even managed to get food into their mouths. Sam Van Wassenbergh has studied more modern animals that live at the land/water interface to see how they accomplish the same task and found some interesting strategies. One such example is the “eel catfish, Channallabes apus, catches unsuspecting victims by arching upwards and descending upon prey, trapping an insect against the ground before sucking it up.”2 Van Wassenbergh suggests that this may have been amongst the strategies of early tetrapods as they were adapting to life on land. Van Wassesbergh made a film of this behavior:


1. Pennisi, “Eating Was Tough For Early Tetrapods” Science 25 January 2013: Vol. 339 no. 6118 pp. 390-391

2. Hopkin, “The Fish that hunts on land” Nature, 12 April 2006 

3. Van Wassenbergh S., et alNature440. 881 (2006).

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: