New Study Justifies Darwin’s ‘Living Fossils’ Theory

A new study has validated one of Charles Darwin’s longstanding theories about ‘living fossils.’Darwin invented the term in 1859, after he observed living species that looked just like their ancestors of millions of years ago. These creatures occupied small parts of the world, escaped competition and therefore did not change.A team of researchers from the University of Bristol have identified a new way to measure the evolutionary rate of the ‘living fossil’ Sphenodon punctatus or tuatara. The study confirmed that the tuatara has shown very slow evolution, as expected, and importantly, its anatomy is very conservative.Tuatara is a relatively large lizard-like animal that once inhabited the main islands of New Zealand, but it was pushed to the 32 smaller, offshore islands by human activity.While tuatara are not lizards, they share a common ancestor from about 240 million years ago and have survived as an independent evolutionary line since.

Source: New Study Justifies Darwin’s ‘Living Fossils’ Theory

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