Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The missing link in whale evolution

One large whale (the unique sperm whale) has teeth, and all the smaller whales and dolphins do. The rest, the mysticetes, ranging from medium-size to titanic, use baleen to strain out fish or crustaceans. When did the split from the early toothed ancestors occur? Now we know. This whale, 28 million years old, has a sieve made out of teeth, a huge and heretofore undocumented change in the cetacean lifestyle.  To my fellow Christians who think the world is young and the fossil record lacks transitional specimens, I would say you can't ask for a better transitional fossil than this one.