Did Fish Learn to Walk?
by Frank Sherwin, M.A. *
Virtually all natural history museums have a diorama displaying fish with strange leg-like fins emerging from the water onto land. This is a critical evolutionary event—gills somehow evolving into lungs and fins evolving into legs—that allegedly occurred many millions of years ago.
But how true is this scenario? After all, this happened before anyone could observe or document it. The only way to “see” if it actually happened is to find fossils of water creatures displaying structures that would have the specific anatomy to enable them to invade this foreign environment called land. It’s no wonder evolutionist Carl Zimmer recently said, “Scientists still puzzle over exactly how the transition from sea to land took place.”1
There has been much work by paleontologists (those who study fossils) investigating this supposed event. Fish becoming amphibians would have involved a very complex process, and the hunt for evidence is quite frustrating because so far there are no fossils to document this bizarre transition. As a University of Geneva press release on a related study noted, “The transitional path between fin structural elements in fish and limbs in tetrapods [four-limbed vertebrate animals] remains elusive.”2
Occasionally, some will insist the “walking” catfish of Florida can walk from pond to pond, thereby showing evolution in action. However, it’s notable that even evolutionists generally don’t see the walking catfish as anything more than a 100% fish that slithers along on its belly until it gets to a new body of water or leaps from the water’s edge to snag a bird. There is no real demonstration of evolution in this behavior; it’s still just a catfish with a unique skill set.
Evolutionists appeal to phantoms and specters to make their “scientific” case of fish turning into amphibians:
The first evidence of tetrapods comes from 395-million-year-old trackways found in shallow marine sediments in Poland…suggesting there is a ghost record of missing forms, as these trackways predate the oldest known elpistostegalian fishes by 10 million years.3
These Polish trackways are distinct digit imprints, and they greatly upset the idea of a lineage of fish-to-tetrapod evolution, particularly as it applies to the role of Tiktaalik.4
One of the many anatomical roadblocks of the transition to amphibian lies in the evolution of the pelvic girdle.5 Pelvic fins in fish are loosely embedded in the flesh and muscle. There is no hint of a connection of these structures with the spinal column.
Recently, however, there was a discovery in Thailand of a wall-climbing cave fish called Cryptotora that some hoped would give “hints about how fish originally arrived on land.”1 It has a pelvic girdle—but no digited appendages.6 According to the evolutionary story, such appendages should have evolved before the pelvic girdle. Even the secular scientific community has been largely silent about this creature.
And according to one expert in the field, the earliest-known tetrapods had a 100% pelvis:
Even in the earliest known tetrapods, the pelvic girdle had become far different in structure from that of a fish.7
Figure 4.2 of Michael Benton’s fourth edition of Vertebrate Paleontology shows an outright magical transition of a fish spinal column having no pelvic anatomy to that of a creature with an “Illum [sic], Ischium, Sacral rib and Pubis”—in just one step (so to speak).8
Did fish learn to walk? No. Science does not document this because it cannot—there are no fossils that show it. And Scripture clearly declares fish were created on Day Five of the creation week.9
- Zimmer, C. Researchers Find Fish That Walks the Way Land Vertebrates Do. New York Times, March 24, 2016.
- How the genetic blueprints for limbs came from fish. University of Geneva press release, January 21, 2014.
- Long, J. A. 2011. The Rise of Fishes. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 223.
- Sherwin, F. Banner Fossil for Evolution Is Demoted. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org January 27, 2010, accessed June 10, 2017.
- Sherwin, F. 2013. Paleontology’s Pelvic Puzzle. Acts & Facts. 42 (5): 16.
- Sherwin, F. Wall-Climbing Cave Fish: Evolutionary Intermediate? Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org May 5, 2016, accessed June 10, 2017.
- Clack, J. A. 2012. Gaining Ground: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 51.
- Benton, M. 2015. Vertebrate Paleontology, 4th ed. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 87.
- Genesis 1:20.
Image credit: Walking catfish. Copyright © 2016 D. Moynahan. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holder.
* Mr. Sherwin is Research Associate, Senior Lecturer, and Science Writer, and earned his M.A. in zoology from University of Northern Colorado.
Cite this article: Frank Sherwin, M.A. 2017. Did Fish Learn to Walk?. Acts & Facts. 46 (8).