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Vision, not limbs, led fish onto land 385 million years ago -- ScienceDaily

Neuroscientist and engineer Malcolm A. MacIver of Northwestern and evolutionary biologist and paleontologist Lars Schmitz of Claremont McKenna, Scripps and Pitzer colleges studied the fossil record and discovered that eyes nearly tripled in size before -- not after -- the water-to-land transition. The tripling coincided with a shift in location of the eyes from the side of the head to the top. The expanded visual range of seeing through air may have eventually led to larger brains in early terrestrial vertebrates and the ability to plan and not merely react, as fish do. "Why did we come up onto land 385 million years ago? We are the first to think that vision might have something to do with it," said MacIver, professor of biomedical engineering and of mechanical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering. "We found a huge increase in visual capability in vertebrates just before the transition from water to land. Our hypothesis is that maybe it was seeing an unexploited cornucopia of food on land -- millipedes, centipedes, spiders and more -- that drove evolution to come up with limbs from fins," MacIver said. (Invertebrates came onto land 50 million years before our vertebrate ancestors made that transition.)

38,000-year-old carving includes enigmatic “punctuation” pattern | Ars Technica

There are punctuations, which form a clear pattern behind and beneath the animal. There are also "short, parallel marks" in front of the aurochs' chest. And there is a deep line that cuts straight through the center of the stone and the aurochs' body, as well as a "tunnel-like depression" right in the abdomen. Indeed this line was cut so deeply that the researchers believe it eventually caused the slab to split in two. Interestingly, analysis revealed that this deep cut was carved first, then the punctuations, followed by the aurochs. So the animal's body was drawn on top of these abstract dots and lines, and some of the dots were even joined to create the aurochs' legs, hindquarters, and abdomen. "The animal figure, executed after the creation of the deep depression, was constructed so as to integrate this feature, which seems to have an important role in the overall graphic construct," the research team wrote. Further Reading First discovery of 50,000-year-old human settlements in Australian interior Early archaeologists believed these punctuations, which are found throughout the region, were a way of tracking phases of the moon.