Yet another ancestor to modern whales is hypothesized. It’s hard to believe people get paid to produce stuff like this.
By SETH BORENSTEIN
AP Science Writer
Wed Dec 19, 6:55 PM ET
WASHINGTON – The gigantic ocean-dwelling whale may have evolved from a land animal the size of a small raccoon, new research suggests. What might be the missing evolutionary link between whales and land animals is an odd animal that looks like a long-tailed deer without antlers or an overgrown long-legged rat, fossils indicate.
The creature is called Indohyus, and recently unearthed fossils reveal some crucial evolutionary similarities between it and water-dwelling cetaceans, such as whales, dolphins and porpoises.
For years, the hippo has been the leading candidate for the closest land relative because of its similar DNA and whale-like features. So some scientists were skeptical of the new hypothesis by an Ohio anatomy professor whose work was being published Thursday in the journal Nature.
Still, some researchers have been troubled that hippos seem to have lived in the wrong part of the world and popped up too recently to be a whale ancestor.
Newer fossils point to the deer-like Indohyus. The animal is a “missing link” to the sister species to ancient whales, said Hans Thewissen, an anatomy professor at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.