August 3, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Fish Evolved by Sunbathing

A new slant on how the first land creatures evolved is found in New Scientist: sunbathing fish received more energy, and this made them better predators.  In all seriousness, James Randerson writes,

Our distant fishy ancestors first hauled themselves on to land in order to warm up in the Sun.  So claims a team that says basking would have provided an energy boost that made the fish more agile in the water, improving their chances of snaring prey.  It was also an evolutionary milestone that heralded the rise of all land vertebrates, including us.”

Jennifer Clack, Ms. tetrapod evolution (see 08/09/2003 and 07/03/2002 headlines), is apparently a convert to this suggestion.  Presumably the new fad of sun-worshipping started a land rush, and all the fish tried to get the best spots on the beach.  Our ancestors were the ones that remembered to pack the umbrellas and sunscreen.

Does anyone need better evidence that Darwinism is not so much a scientific theory as the eternal quest for a good story?  (See 12/22/2003 headline).  The best candidates are those that lend themselves to cartoons by Johnny Hart and Gary Larson.  How the destructive energy of raw sunlight was able to generate lungs and legs and other specialized organs for land habitation is inconsequential, as long as the plot has possibilities for visualization.  Write here with your suggested caption:

  • Roll me over, Melba, I’m done on this side.
  • Charlie Tuna here, out to catch some rays, and shrimp, too.
  • Now you know why they call us sunfish.
  • That’s not skin cancer; it’s an evolving leg.
  • Let’s try another beach; there’s nothing to eat here (see 04/30/2002 headline).
  • The original fish fry.
  • Storm the beach: the marines are looking for a few good men.
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Categories: Dumb Ideas

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