Whale evolution

From: Kim Marshall-Tilas (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Tue May 28 2002 - 17:56:27 EDT

Question and answers:
> Dear Ms. Marshall,
> Hi, my name is Connor Louden and I'm a 9th grade student at Jackson Jr.
> High in Vienna, West Virginia. I am doing a report on the evolution of whales
> for my honors english class. I have a few questions that I would like to find
> out the answers to, so if you could write back I would be very appreciative.
> Here they are:
> 1. What is being done today to find out about the evolution of whales?
> The people that study whales and how they have evolved are called
> paleontologists and there a many of them at institutions like the Smithsonian
> and at universities ie:http://evolution.anat.ucl.ac.uk/news/news.htm
> 2. How has the whale's habitat changed? Do you think that has affected
> evolution?
> The entire planet has changed a lot since the time that whales evolved which
> we believe is between 40 and 50 million years ago. It is thought that whales
> evolved from land mammals into swimmers. Skeletons of the transitional species
> ("whales with limbs") show that they were otter-like swimmers.
> 3. Are there any places near me that has information on this topic?
> Please review the web link in question 1 and also use WhaleNet¹s how to find
> section at http://whale.wheelock.edu/howtofind.html and do a search on whale
> evolution.
> 4. Do scientists expect whales to keep changing?
> I can guess that whales will keep changing as natural evolution occurs but the
> changes take a long time.
> 5. What kind of whales ancestors changed the most?
> A scientist last year discovered that early whale ancestors were mainly land
> animals and they are most closely related to modern even-toed ungulates (such
> as pigs, hippos, camels, deer, and sheep) than to an extinct group of
> meat-eating mammals as once thought.
Good luck with your project Connor!

Kim Marshall-Tilas
Executive Director
Ocean Alliance
(Encompassing the Whale Conservation Inst. & the Voyage of the Odyssey)
191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
781-259-0423 x 14 fax: 781-259-0288
www.oceanalliance.org www.pbs.org/odyssey

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