From Land to Sea: How Could a Land Mammal Turn Into a Whale?

Topics: Evolution of cetaceans, Eocene, Whale Pages: 4 (1187 words) Published: June 9, 2008
From Land To Sea: How could a Land Mammal turn into a Whale?

by Tamara Schupp

San Diego State University


Whale Evolution 2

From Land to Sea: How could a Land Mammal turn into a Whale?

The evolution of whales has long been a mystery to researchers. A whale has so many derived characteristics of a land mammal, such as a large brain, it breathes air, gives birth to live young and is warm blooded, and yet it still manages to live in the sea. Evolutionists believe that the ancestors of whales were land mammals that during the process of evolution lost their legs and became adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. The controversy is that evolution teaches that the first animals crawled out of the sea onto land and not reverse. How could this transformation of whales from land mammals to marine mammals happen? What group of land mammals gave rise to whales? Thanks to a profusion of intermediate fossils that were discovered within the past few years, these questions can be answered and the transformation of whales has become more clear. This paper will discuss the existing evidence, that whales descended from terrestrial mammals, from a palentological point of view and will explain the transformation from terrestrial mammals-- through more and more whale-like forms-- until the appearance of modern whales. The idea that whales are descendents from land mammals goes back to Darwin’s suggested theory that whales arose from bears. His theory proposed that selective pressure might cause bears to evolve into whales. Soon embarrassed by criticism of his theory of swimming bears he removed the idea from his edition of the Origin.1One of the Whale Evolution 3

first fossils that proved the transition of terrestrial mammal to whales were found by paleontologist Phil Gingerich in 1983. He discovered a 52-milion-year-old skull in Pakistan that is similar to the fossils of Mesonychids, which are wolf-sized carnivores that lived in the early Eocene...
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