Fish crawled out of their ponds into a flooded forest, not a sandy desert, says a geologist at the University of Oregon. The best part: evolution favored the fish with “more flexible necks.” The Journal of Geology has published these speculative findings as a “study” displacing the desert theory that has been popular since the 1940s.
The new theory has water quickly rising to cover forested regions. When it receded a short time later, it left an environment with many tree limbs and pools. The fish that survived were able to move around, through the branches, and eventually turned into amphibians capable of living on land most of the time.
Plus, adds the geologist, all fossil traces of fish moving out of ponds occur in wetter places. Swim bladders gradually evolved into lungs just while fins were evolving into limbs. Furthermore, these super-fish had no land predators to attack them—thus making the switch from water to land a cinch.
The Eugene, Ore., Register-Guard has more :