He added: “This is the first time that we have unequivocally discovered fingers locked in a fin in any known fish.
“The articulating digits in the fin are like the finger bones found in the hands of most animals.”
The evolution of fishes into tetrapods — the group of four-legged vertebrates to which humans belong — is one of the most significant events in the evolution of life.
Vertebrates with backbones could leave water to eventually conquer land.
One of the most significant changes was the evolution of hands and feet.
Richard Cloutier, of the University of Quebec in Rimouski, a co-author of a paper published in Nature, confirmed fossil finds over the past decade had revolutionised expert’s understanding of the anatomical transformations associated with breathing, hearing and feeding on land.