• The fossil of Tiktaalik roseae

    The fossil of Tiktaalik roseae. (Photo: Roger Bull/Canadian Museum of Nature)

Tiktaalik, a famous 375-million-year-old fish fossil, was welcomed back to Canada this week. Discovered on Ellesmere Island in 2004, the fossil made international headlines because it offers an indication of when fish first began evolving into land animals. About 60 specimens of Tiktaalik roseae and 120 other specimens from the High Arctic were returned to Canada this week. They were studied for a decade in the labs of co-discoverers Neil Shubin, from the University of Chicago, and Ted Daeschler, from Drexel University in Philadephia. The fossils will now be stored at the Canadian Museum of Nature's Natural Heritage Campus in Gatineau, Quebec. "Our museum manages some of the best collections of Arctic specimens in the world, which are backed by more than 100 years of Arctic research and exploration," the museum's vice-president of research and collections Mark Graham said in a statement. "So Tiktaalik and these other fossils are a valuable addition to this knowledge." Tiktaalik's significance was outlined in the scientific journal Nature in 2006. The researchers explained Tiktaalik had a flat head and neck but also fins, scales and gills, meaning it has features belonging to fish and the first four-limbed creatures. The fossils are being housed by the Museum of Nature on behalf of the Government of Nunavut. "Now that our primary research is completed, the return of these fossils to Canada and their access at the Canadian Museum of Nature makes new discoveries possible by other scientists with questions about the evolution of life," Daeschler said in a statement.