Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

East Gippsland                                                                                                                                                         

By about 360 million years ago amphibian vertebrates were beginning to venture out of the water. Along the Genoa River, East Gippsland, Australia, not far from where the earliest-known club moss fossils were found, a fossil mud bank from that ancient time was found that bears the tracks of the first-known 4-footed animal on land. Some footprints show a 5-toed print and some have a shallow groove between the footprints that was made by the body or tail as the creature moved about.

It is now the second oldest known. Even older tracks have been found in Poland dating to 395 million years ago on preserved marine mudflats. It was previously believed that the adaptations for breathing air and living on land occurred exclusively in freshwater habitats, the new discoveries of the tracks and an air gulping lungfish from a marine environment show that it could occur in marine environments.

See Earliest Tetrapods, Origin from Marine Environment


  1. Trackways from the early Middle Devonian period of Poland
  2. Oxygen plungs left ancient fish gasping for air
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Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 07/09/2014
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