Subject: Origin of whales (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Tue, 3 Nov 1998 07:24:12 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 09:59:34 -1000
From: "Jennifer D. Philips" <>
Subject: Origin of whales

>         Dear Jen,
>               My name is Meredith Klinger from Verona, New Jersey and I
>like to know what the origin of a whale is. To respond write me at
>                                  =20
>                                            Sincerely,=20
>                                         Meredith Klinger

Meredith -=20

I answered a question last week about whale evolution which may answer your
question:  here was my response to that question --=20

The first recognizable cetaceans lived in the seas about 50 million years
ago.=A0 They are called the Archaeocetes, members of the suborder
Archaeoceti.=A0 They are thought to have evolved from a group of animals of
the order Condylarthra, which is also the ancestor of modern even-toed
ungulates (antelope, camels, etc).=A0 So, 50 million years ago, some ancest=
of cows decided that there was a whole entire niche to exploit in the warm
marshy Tethys Sea, and never turned back.=A0 The body elongated, the limbs
became reduced, the snout became longer, the nostrils shifted backwards,
and structures developed making life in the sea possible.=A0 Eventually, by
the mid-Oligocene 25-30 million years ago, toothed whales and baleen whales
separated:=A0 the teeth of some of the species which had developed from the
initial Archaeocetes were replaced by long rows of kertin plates.=A0 These
plates evolved into the baleen seen today in modern baleen whales.=A0


The key to whale evolution seems to have been the Tethys sea - a warm,
marshy ocean which opened access to the oceans to land mammals.  All
whales, dolphins, and porpoises evolved from the species of mammals
(Condylarths) which moved into the Tethys sea about 50 million years ago.=

I hope this answers your question.  Write again anytime!

Aloha -
Jen Philips

Jennifer D. Philips=09=09

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106=09=09=09
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831