historical research of the whale fossil records related species geographic distribution whale evolution video
In 1693 John Ray classified whales as mammals In 1859 Charles Darwin believes that whales have similarities to the black bear In 1883 William Flower suggested whales evolved from ungulates Philip D. Gingerich Ph.D. researched whale fossils in Pakistan and Egypt from1970s through 1990s Hans Thewissen led the team that reconstructed the skeleton of the first land mammal ancestor of the whale
Indohyus literally means India’s Pig Fossil founded by Indian geologist Ranga Rao Skeleton assembled by Hans Thewissen Fossil dates back 60 mya Even toed ungulate Size of a modern house cat Chemical tests on teeth and bone analysis revealed that Indohyus spent much of its time wadding in water as a hippo would Bone structure around the ear revealed unique similarities to that of the modern whale
First Archaeocete Evolved 52 mya Founded by Philip Gingerich in 1983 in Pakistan Pakicetus was about the size of a wolf Primarily was a land mammal but spent much time in the water. Had sharp teeth of a carnivore Like Indohyus, had similar bone structure around ear to that of modern whales
Ambulocetus “walking whale” was found in 1992 by Thewissen Fossil dates back 49 mya 3 meters in length, hind legs were well adapted for swimming Skeleton suggests that it hunted like a crocodilian Ambulocetus had no external ear, probably kept head close to ground to detect vibrations of land prey Anatomy of spinal column-swam with tail going up and down Had an adaptation in the nose that enabled it to swallow underwater, and its periotic bones had a structure like those of whales, enabling it to hear well underwater
49-43 mya in Pakistan by Stromer 1908 Lumbar vertebrae-neural spines higher, more developed tail for swimming Sacral vertebrae not fused- more flexibility, body developed for swimming Femur was a third shorter than that of the Ambulocetus’ Skull elongated Ears pushed further back Smaller eyes First ancestor to be more water orientated that land
Basilosaurus “regal lizard” First skeletal parts found in Louisiana and Alabama in the 1830’s Fossil dates back 35-40 mya Could grow up to 20 meters First ancestor that was all aquatic Complete set of hind limb bones and a pelvis, but very small Formation of blow hole-single large nostril to the top of the head First to have tail fluke- due to structure of vertebral proportions
Dorudon was founded by Gingerich in 1994 Fossil dates back 33-40 mya Found in North America, India, and Pakistan Originally thought to be an intermediate Basilosarus, ranging from 4-5 meters Carnivorous, feeding on small fish and mollusks Looked very similar to modern whales, but lacked the melon organ Also a completely water orientated mammal.
Distribution of Basilosaurus and Dorudon widely spread vs. Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus restricted to one area in India, Pakistan region
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