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Minds blown: Scientists develop fish that walks on land

Posted at 11:22 AM, Aug 28, 2014

Taking fish out of water — it's an expression that describes something that literally shouldn't work. But for some scientists, it apparently has.

This is the Senegal  bichir... and it's walking. Researchers took the fish from a young age and forced them to live on land for 8 months, in conditions that were humid enough that they could survive. 

The study found the fish — which were previously known to move on land only incidentally — could adapt to walking on land.

Basically, what the study wanted to look at was how tetrapods — four-legged creatures — first pulled themselves out of the water and made that "Little Mermaid" switch from aquatic animals to terrestrial ones. 

There are well-documented cases of fish — like the mudskipper — walking on land and even climbing trees. 

But unlike the mudskipper the Bichir has lungs, and crucially, as the study found, their movement on land is much closer to that of the earliest tetrapods. 

Now that's due to a number of factors, including the positioning of their fins on their body, but one of the really interesting things the study charted was how the fishes' bodies adapted to life on land.

To learn more about the findings, watch this Newsy video.