Amazing Data

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You Call That a Whale?

Category: Amazing photos

47 million years ago, whales that looked like this gave birth on land, according to a study published this week that analyzes the fossil of a pregnant whale found in the Pakistani desert.  This type of ancient proto-whale was amphibious.

When the fossil was discovered, the scientists were perplexed by the jumble of adult and fetal-size bones. First they found small teeth, then ribs going the wrong way. The head-first postion of the fetus gave them the clue:  land mamals are generally born head first, and marine mammals are born tail first.

Illustration courtesy John Klausmeyer and Bonnie Miljour/University of Michigan Museums of Natural History.

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Marilyn Terrell.

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