According tomedia New Atlas, previous studies have shown that the ancestors of modern whales are most likely terrestrial hoofed animals. And a new study says previously discovered fossils represent a very important part of the evolution of prehistoric whales.
In 2007, scientists discovered the fossil remains of a creature called Aegicetus gehennae in Egypt’s western desert. It lived about 35 million years ago and was part of the family of early amphibious killer whale species.
A team of researchers at the University of Michigan, led by paleontologist Philip Gingerich, recently re-examined the bones. Among other things, the scientists determined that Aegicetus gehennae might swim like a crocodile in a wave. This is different from the swimming style of earlier primitive whales and later all-aquatic whales.
Professor Gingerich said: “Primitive whales that lived between 47 and 41 million years ago swam with limbs. Later, about 37 million years ago, whales gradually swam on tails. Aegicetus gehennae is in the middle of time and form and is functionally transitional because it has a more powerful spine than a tail-powered ‘swimmer’. “
The most complete skeleton belongs to the individual whale, most likely a male whale, weighing about 2,000 pounds (907 kg) and about 12 feet (3.7 meters) long.
Aegicetus gehennae has a longer body and tail, smaller hind limbs and no strong connection between the hind limbs and the spine than earlier female whales. These features suggest that it is more suitable for living in water than its ancestors and less suitable for swimming with limbs.
A paper on the study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.