PA – Tiktaalik roseae on display

Leave a comment

April 23, 2014 by Dr. G

It is funny how some topics that I teach come back around in new and exciting ways… take, for example, the Tiktaalik roseae, the 375-million year old “fishapod” (OK, scientifically, we officially refer to this fossil specimen as a tetrapod).  It was discovered in the Canadian Arctic in 2004, and this fossil pushes back in time when we believe fish were able to make the transition to living in the water to moving around and living on land.

In Spring 2009, I taught GEOSC 021, a general education course for non-science majors called Earth & Life.  One of the books the class read that semester was Your Inner Fish by Dr. Neil Shubin, one of the discoverers of the Tiktaalik roseae.  One of the other scientists involved in the discovery was Dr. Ted Daeschler, a paleontologist with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.  It just so happens that the timing that semester was perfect – while we were reading and learning about Tiktaalik, the real fossil specimen was “visiting” the Academy!  So the class grabbed the regional rail train in to the city, and Dr. Daeschler was kind enough to give us a lecture and behind-the-scenes tour to see the Tiktaalik fossil and other fossils in their collection.  This trip was one of the highlights of my teaching experience, certainly “the” top moment for GEOSC 021!

Flash forward to 2014, where Tiktaalik reappears for a 3-part PBS special and a limited-time display at the Academy of Natural Sciences!  The original Tiktaalik fossil bones were in glass cases in the Academy’s Ewell Sale Stewart Library.  Here, I share some of the photos I was able to capture of the fossils, and I have provided some links to information about the television mini-series below the images.  If you want to see the fossil for yourself, you will need to get to the Academy by April 30, 2014, and the Library is only open to visitors from 1PM to 4PM.  It is absolutely worth the trip!

Two display cases in the Library display real pieces of the fossil.

Two display cases in the Library display real pieces of Tiktaalik.


This fossil specimen, NUFV 111, is part of the snout of Tiktaalik.  When this specimen was collected in 2002, it was the first good clue that the site might produce fossils of animals at the fish-to-tetrapod transition.


The skull of NUFV #109, largest of the known specimens of Tiktaalik, shows the roof of the mouth (palate) very well.  The lower jaw is also very well preserved.


This is the best-known specimen of NUFV #108.  It was collected in 2004.  It is the most complete skeleton discovered and the first to be studied in detail.  As a result it has been designated as the holotype of Tiktaalik roseae, the standard to which any comparison must be made.


Here is a close-up of the finned limb that brought Tiktaalik out of the water and on to land.


See the following resources for more about this fascinating fossil!

  • A three-part series on PBS titled “Your Inner Fish” reveals how our bodies are the legacy of fish, reptile, and primate ancestors. Video clips, interactives, an image gallery, and classroom resources are available at:
  • Have you read the book?  Visit the book website for more information, slides, etc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Follow me on Instagram

I'm thrilled to be exhibiting my quilts and crocheted pieces at @jagardens, starting this weekend! It will be the first time my Drawing Down Towards Climate Solutions mini-quilts, plus my Stitching Hope for the Louisiana quilts, PLUS my crocheted temperature data will all be on display at once. For those in southeastern PA, I hope you are able to come out sometime before January 8 to stroll the beautiful arboretum and stop by the art gallery to view these pieces. Admission to the arboretum and gallery is free!
Finished this fun data visualization/quilt top that shares the daily Sky Cover measurements from @joides_resolution #EXP390. As sky cover is recorded in units zero to eight, I chose eight different batik fabrics to represent the scale (the deepest blue batik for the blue sky, and the darkest/black batik for when the sky was completely clouded over, and all shades of blue/grey in-between). As the expedition officially was April 7 thru June 7, 2022, there are 62 pieces of data/batik strips. The background fabric is filled with golden stars for the sky, and the bright gold border is my nod to our port city, where the fabric was purchased.
Thank you @SciHistoryOrg for hosting Start Talking Science 2022 - so great to be able to present alongside other Philly scientists about the work we do to a non-STEM audience of all ages! And a great opportunity to share the mission and how we do science at sea on @theJR #EXP390 #EXP393
Back at @pennlivearts this evening to hear the @blindboysofalabama - so incredible, so inspirational! The new songs were great, but my all-time favorite will always be Amazing Grace sung to The House of the Rising Sun (check it out if you have never heard this innovative mashup).
🎼 I love live New Orleans jazz - and tonight, I didn’t have to go to New Orleans, as the jazz came to me! 🎶 Such a fun concert by @newbreed_brassband. 🎵 The best part - the sousaphone player’s high school band teacher was there & brought his trumpet on stage and joined them for a few songs. 🎺 After the first song, he said he was getting emotional, as he was so proud of the group. I get it, teacher, I’m there with you.
%d bloggers like this: