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First land animals moved like seals, say researchers

Ross Cronkrite | Science Recorder | January 13, 2013

First land animals moved like seals, say researchers

Researchers from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility say that the first land animals moved like seals.

An international team of researchers has discovered that the first land animals moved like seals, according to a news release from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). For the first time, researchers have reconstructed the elaborate backbone of early tetrapods (the first four-legged animals). They used high-energy X-rays and a new data extraction protocol to reconstruct the backbones of the 360 million-year-old fossils in great detail, giving scientists new information on how the early tetrapods moved from water onto land.

According to researchers, tetrapods are four-limbed vertebrates, like the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals of today. Approximately 400 million years ago, early tetrapods were the first vertebrates to take short trips into shallower waters where they used their four limbs for moving around. Scientists continue to debate how exactly vertebrates accomplished this. 

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