Evolution, Eating krill, Singing

From: Erich Hoyt (EHoyt@compuserve.com)
Date: Wed Oct 16 2002 - 07:26:13 EDT

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    Message text written by "Sandra Bailey"

    Did whales develop from other animals? If so,when did they live on land?
    Why do they eat little krill and not big fish?What does there singing sound
    What do you think there singing is used for?

    -------------------- End Original Message --------------------

    Dear Ryan,

    Yes, whales evolved from a land-based "hooved" mammal, an early ungulate or
    deer- or goat-like animal. This was more than 50 million years ago.

    The toothed whales eat various sizes of fish including (some of them such
    as orcas or killer whales) big fish. Some of the large baleen whales such
    as humpback whales also eat smaller fish but the largest whales, the blue
    and fin whales and others subsist on krill. They have found a way to
    survive by locating huge quantities of krill, corraling them and removing
    the water from each huge mouthful.

    The singing of humpback whales has been compared to cattle braying,
    elephant trumpeting, whines, and other animal sounds. The sounds are
    repeated in regular patterns which are like songs. Since male humpbacks do
    most of the singing, some scientists have suggested that the singing may be
    a way for males to work out who gets the first chance to mate. Instead of
    fighting, they may all sing and the one who sings the song best gets to
    mate with the female. But no one knows for sure what the singing is for.


    Erich Hoyt

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