by Riley Black/Smithsonian.com

Whales don’t swim as fish do. Instead of moving their tales side-to-side like a shark or a sunfish, the marine mammals pump their tails up-and-down to propel themselves forward. But over 50 million years ago, the earliest whales had legs and could walk on land. Adapting to life in the sea required a new way of moving, and a fossil uncovered in Egypt helps estimate the time when whales became primarily tail-powered swimmers.

The partial skeleton, described today by the University of Michigan paleontologist Iyad Zalmout and colleagues in PLOS ONE, is an ancient whale that swam the seas of what’s now Egypt around 39 million years ago. The fossil was found in the desert of Wadi Al-Hitan, a place so rich in cetacean fossils that it’s known as Whale Valley.

In 2007 a joint expedition between paleontologists from the University of Michigan and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency set out to find new whales and other vertebrates in a part of Wadi Al-Hitan that had not been thoroughly explored before. “One paleontologist spotted a cluster of vertebrae weathering out from the foothill of a prominent plateau known as Qaret Gehannam,”

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Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – two daughters-in-law; Suzy and Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, two rescue pups, and two guinea pigs.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013

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4 COMMENTS

  1. “All told, the paleontologists uncovered almost the entire spine, part of the skull, and pieces of the arms and legs. “It was very clear from the shape and the size of the vertebrae and appendages that this whale is new in this area,” Zalmout says. Further study indicated that the mammal was a species not seen anywhere else in the world”. So far so good, we are talking about an unknown species of whales, but, wait for it and please catch that…
    “Named Aegicetus gehennae, the ancient swimmer stands out from others found in Wadi Al-Hitan, which fall into one of two groups. Some earlier whales could swim with a combination of paddling limbs and undulating their spines, not unlike otters. Other whales, like Basilosaurus, lived in the sea full time and swam with tails only. Aegicetus fits between the two, representing a moment when whales were just switching to exclusively tail-driven locomotion.“I’d say this fossil is another excellent piece of the puzzle of the lineage of whales that went from terrestrial to fully aquatic,” says George Mason University paleontologist Mark Uhen”
    An ancient mammal swimmer with a different feature for adaptation in his environment quickly become a transitional species/mutant species of whales- An aquatic animal nonetheless- from their “hypothesis” initially being both terrestrial, so having leg to an aquatic swimmer but with a different features. Jeez! they cannot stop selling such evolution crackpot…

    • Even the article points out to the illustration of vertebrae and spine fossilised and discovered, but they do not show any limbs such as part of arms and legs. The vertebrae and the spine show are of an ancient species of whales. Again, what is done is a disgrace and a serious fraud! Period! All that to maintain non observable evolution by natural selection! So they have stated that this animal was an ancient species of whales- an aquatic animal, but because of his different and alleged feature for swimming (again not observed but alleged from the vertebrae/spine physiology and morphology), it was quickly turn to, and that is thanks to their “hypothesis” into a mutant species of whales, which according to their theory was initially terrestrial and transited gradually to become aquatic! These peoiple do not have any revulsion for their fraud! Come to us with species of whales with parts of limbs and were terrestrials and show us the mutant species which slowly and surely became aquatic…

    • ….As far as I can read and note from the illustration, you have shown only 1 individual of an ancient specie of aquatic whales which swam differently according to yourselves. You have not done your homework! You have shown one ancient specie of aquatic whale and that is all. You have just embellished that discovery using a non proven hypothesis, as usual, with the help of mumbo jumbo confusion, false explanation and words just to maintain evolution by natural selection, a serious fraud here! Shame on you, so called professors or doctors at Academia! We do not need your garbage! Even a baby boy/girl can see the fossils for what these are and can note your revulsing fraud! Thanks for proving once again that there is nothing valid to maintain that hypothesis, that what you have proven to me and person with a right mind!

  2. “Whales don’t swim like fish do. Instead of moving their tales side-to-side like a shark or a sunfish, the marine mammals pump their tails up-and-down to propel themselves forward”. Not just this, as whales are mamals, they also do not breathe like shark or other fish. They have lungs not guilds. They have to take a lot of air before diving for hours and then come up again for air in the planet’s atmosphere. the fish, thanks to their guilds take oxygen from the water. That is my first remark on that article….