Fossils Current Affairs - 2020

Fossil links human hands to fins for the first time in Human Evolution

The Paleontologists of Canada have linked human hands to the fins of fish. The researchers examined a fossil of “Elpistostege”.

About the findings

The Elpistostege represents the pivotal stage of transition of fish into land vertebrates. The transition was supported by the front fins of the fish called the pectoral fins. These fins had radial bones that were arranged in a row like that of fingers. These bones should have given the flexibility to bear weight on land.


The Elpistostege was completely aquatic. It had a crocodile-like body, flat triangular head, numerous teeth around jaws. The paleontologists believe that during its era, Elpistostege was the top predator in brackish estuary ecosystem. The Elpistostege lived during Devonian period. The four-limbed animals that evolved from these Elpistostege were called tetrapods.

Devonian Period

The Devonian Period spans for 60 million years and is around 419 million years ago. It is named after the place Devon, England where the rocks of the era were first found.

Fossils of oldest mammal ancestor discovered in UK

Palaeontologists from University of Portsmouth, UK have discovered remains of humankind’s oldest mammal ancestor — a tiny rat-like creature that lived 145 million years ago.

The fossils of nocturnal mammal were discovered on Jurassic Coast of Dorset. The mammal is earliest in line that evolved into humans and branched off into creatures as diverse as blue whales and pigmy shrews.

Key Facts

The new species of fossilized nocturnal mammal was named Durlstotherim newmani after an amateur palaeontologist and pub owner Charlie Newman, who helped scientists collect the new specimens. Its teeth had evolved over time from very simple ones that were not very efficient to molar-like ridged teeth which could tear, chew and grind food very easily. The fossilized teeth as well-evolved as Durlstotherim newmani previously were found only in rock layers from, late Cretaceous between 86 and 66 million years ago.