Found: Whale Thought Extinct for 2 Million Years
2012-12-20 0:00

From: MNN.com

The pygmy right whale, a mysterious and elusive creature that rarely comes to shore, is the last living relative of an ancient group of whales long believed to be extinct, a new study suggests.


The elusive marine mammals inhabit the Southern Hemisphere and have only been spotted at sea a few dozen times.


The findings, published today (Dec. 18) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, may help to explain why the enigmatic marine mammals look so different from any other living whale.

"The living pygmy right whale is, if you like, a remnant, almost like a living fossil," said Felix Marx, a paleontologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "Its the last survivor of quite an ancient lineage that until now no one thought was around."

Living fossil

The relatively diminutive pygmy right whale, which grows to just 21 feet (6.5 meters) long, lives out in the open ocean. The elusive marine mammals inhabit the Southern Hemisphere and have only been spotted at sea a few dozen times. As a result, scientists know almost nothing about the species habits or social structure.

The strange creatures arched, frownlike snout makes it look oddly different from other living whales. DNA analysis suggested pygmy right whales diverged from modern baleen whales such as the blue whale and the humpback whale between 17 million and 25 million years ago. However, the pygmy whales snouts suggested they were more closely related to the family of whales that includes the bowhead whale. Yet there were no studies of fossils showing how the pygmy whale had evolved, Marx said.

To understand how the pygmy whale fit into the lineage of whales, Marx and his colleagues carefully analyzed the skull bones and other fossil fragments from pygmy right whales and several other ancient cetaceans.

The pygmy whales skull most closely resembled that of an ancient family of whales called cetotheres that were thought to have gone extinct around 2 million years ago, the researchers found. Cetotheres emerged about 15 million years ago and once occupied oceans across the globe.

The findings help explain how pygmy whales evolved and may also help shed light on how these ancient "lost" whales lived. The new information is also a first step in reconstructing the ancient lineage all the way back to the point when all members of this group first diverged, he said.


Article from: mnn.com



Related Articles
Rare Photographs of 12 Extinct Birds
Snake Returns from Extinction
"Extinct" frog hops back into northern Israel
Leading Anthropologist Says Human Beings "Extinction Proof"
"Extinct" Animals Back From The Dead


Latest News from our Front Page

Confederate History - Dispelling the Myths
2015-07-03 3:28
History books, the media, the school systems, etc abound in falsehoods and inaccuracies of Confederate and Southern history. This fact sheet will help to clarify and dispell some of these rampant inaccuracies. MYTH - The War of 1861 - 1865 was fought over slavery. FACT - Terribly untrue. The North fought the war over money. Plain ...
Gays Rights May Open Door for Pedophile Rights
2015-07-03 3:31
Democrats have attempted to normalize pedophilia as a sexual orientation. A recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage may soon allow pedophiles to argue they are suffering discrimination. “Using the same tactics used by ‘gay’ rights activists, pedophiles have begun to seek similar status arguing their desire for children is a sexual orientation no different than heterosexual or homosexuals,” writes Jack Minor ...
Government Trolls Are Using ‘Psychology-Based Influence Techniques’ On YouTube, Facebook And Twitter
2015-07-03 3:56
Have you ever come across someone on the Internet that you suspected was a paid government troll? Well, there is a very good chance that you were not imagining things. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have solid proof that paid government trolls are using “psychology-based influence techniques” on social media websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. ...
Artificial Intelligence Takes the Battlefield: Who Is Really Running Jade Helm 15?
2015-07-03 2:31
Who is really going to be running Jade Helm 15? There is more to the story than just training for martial law in states designated as “hostile states” – already a chilling pretext with overtones of greater federal power that could spiral out of control. But it seems that it is actually A.I. – artificial intelligence – that is at the helm ...
Robot kills man at Volkswagen plant in Germany
2015-07-03 2:32
A 22-year-old worker was grabbed by the robot and crushed against a metal plate A robot has killed a man at a Volkswagen car factory in Germany. The 22-year-old worker died from injuries he sustained when he was trapped by a robotic arm and crushed against a metal plate. The man, who has not been named, was part of a team that ...
More News »