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Fish with fingers existed 380 million years ago

A fish with fingers is said to have existed 380 million years ago.

The five-foot long Elpistostege watsoni could be found in tropical lagoons and scientists believe they could be a missing link in human evolution and may hold clues as to how hands evolved in people.

Scientists in Australia studied the fossil and found the structure of its fin had similarities to the human hand, with the skeleton featuring an arm, a forearm and finger-like appendages.

Professor John Long, of Flinders University in Adelaide, said: “This is the first time that we have unequivocally discovered fingers locked in a fin with fin-rays in any known fish.

“The articulating digits in the fin are like the finger bones found in the hands of most animals.

“This finding pushes back the origin of digits in vertebrates to the fish level, and tells us that the patterning for the vertebrate hand was first developed deep in evolution, just before fishes left the water.”