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What paleontologists do know about the first whale ancestor is that it was originally a furry, four-legged omnivore that evolved into a range of amphibious species nearly 50 million years ago, and then into fully aquatic species around 45 million years ago.
The whales' teeth, well-suited for catching and eating fish, suggests the animals made their livings in the sea, probably coming onto land only to rest, mate and give birth, Gingerich said.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Primitive whales gave birth on land, a fossil research team led by a Michigan-based paleontologist said in a paper to be published on Wednesday in the online journal PLoS.
Scientists, who unearthed the fossil in Pakistan, believe the early whales swam and caught fish at sea but also came on land, moving with their flipper-like limbs.
Working with colleagues at the Geological Survey of Pakistan in Quetta, paleontologist Philip Gingerich of the University of Michigan unearthed the skeletons of 47-million-year-old proto-whales at a dig in Pakistan's Baluchistan province. The strange-looking beasts, which were about the size of modern-day sea lions, appeared to have the head of an ancient whale and the anklebones of an artiodactyl. With a long snout and webbed, flipperlike hind feet, the extinct species was probably well adapted to swimming in shallow seas but also able to crawl onto land with its hoofed forelimbs. It is the anklebones, however, that most excited Gingerich. Grooves in the bones indicate that the animals could flex their feet in two places, just as modern artiodactyls do.
The fossil of a mother whale with its foetus positioned to be born headfirst, like a land mammal, has been found.
DNA studies had hinted at the hippo-whale connection, but previous fossil finds appeared to contradict it. The newfound remains confirm the connection: The animals' feet and hands closely resemble those of anthracotheres, ancient land-dwelling artiodactyls that were ancestral to hippopotamuses. "This is a Rosetta stone linking whales to the artiodactyls on land," says Gingerich. "To decipher the Rosetta stone, it was necessary to get both languages on the same stone, to prove that they represent the same text. And that's what these discoveries are."
Now Dr. Thewissen and colleagues discovered of the skeleton of Indohyus, an approximately 48-million-year-old even-toed ungulate from the Kashmir region of India, as the closest known fossil relative of whales. Dr. Thewissen’s team studied a layer of mudstone with hundreds of bones of Indohyus, a fox-sized mammal that looked something like a miniature deer.
Originally posted by SantaClaus
The dog theory is more related to dolphins, no?
I believe that this is the only reason there are mammalian sea creatures.
Deer are supposed to walk on land and graze not swim underwater
That was until researchers witnessed some remarkable behaviour during two separate incidents.
The first occurred in June 2008 during a biodiversity survey in northern Central Kalimantan Province in Borneo, Indonesia.
During the survey, observers saw a mouse-deer swimming in a forest stream. When the animal noticed the observers it submerged. Over the next hour, they saw it come to the surface four or five times, and maybe more unseen. But it often remained submerged for more than five minutes at a time.
A mouse-deer in Borneo caught having spent 60 minutes trying to hide underwater.
It also lends support to the idea that whales evolved from water-loving creatures that looked like small deer.
All belong to the ancient ruminant family Tragulidae, which split some 50 million years ago from other ruminants, the group that went on to evolve into cattle, goats, sheep, deer and antelope