Australian mud-skippers; I saw them last night on a rerun of the BBC series, “Planet Earth.” They’re slimy little fish whose eyes recede totally into their body when they blink rather than simply drag a film of flesh over them, like we do. They roll around in the mud frequently to keep their skin moist, because it’s through their moist skin that they breath; dries out and they’re goners. As the program pointed out (narrated by Oprah Winfrey), this skipper behavior is probably pretty much how the first fish exited the ocean.
What they neglected to point out was the very different motivations those two kinds of fish had for starting the scramble out of the water. According to the BBC, the mud-skippers ventured onto land for food, the microorganisms found in the mudflats. According to paleontologists, the first fish departed for protection from the perils of the deep. Regular readers of this blog (I know you’re not out there) will be aware that I’ve long argued that the first fish left for food, as well. I’ve even argued that it couldn’t be the other way around. This BBC show doesn’t validate my claims, but it sure bolsters them.
But it does seem one of those instances where the paleontologists make their pronouncements without a clue as to how the world currently works. Bones, blood types, and DNA will only tell one so much; eventually one has to go out and smell the roses and make sure they’re still real. My argument is that a fish out of water is a hungry fish, not a scared fish.
5 weeks ago