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Modern members of the mammalian order Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are obligate aquatic swimmers that are highly distinctive in morphology, lacking hair and hind limbs, and having flippers, flukes, and a streamlined body. Eocene fossils document much of cetaceans' land-to-water transition, but, until now, the most primitive representative for(More)
Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are an order of mammals that originated about 50 million years ago in the Eocene epoch. Even though all modern cetaceans are obligate aquatic mammals, early cetaceans were amphibious, and their ancestors were terrestrial artiodactyls, similar to small deer. The transition from land to water is documented by a(More)
Although the first ten million years of whale evolution are documented by a remarkable series of fossil skeletons, the link to the ancestor of cetaceans has been missing. It was known that whales are related to even-toed ungulates (artiodactyls), but until now no artiodactyls were morphologically close to early whales. Here we show that the Eocene south(More)
Early cetaceans evolved from terrestrial quadrupeds to obligate swimmers, a change that is traditionally studied by functional analysis of the postcranial skeleton. Here we assess the evolution of cetacean locomotor behaviour from an independent perspective by looking at the semicircular canal system, one of the main sense organs involved in neural control(More)
While olfaction is one of the most important senses in most terrestrial mammals, it is absent in modern toothed whales (Odontoceti, Cetacea). Furthermore, behavioral evidence suggests that gustation is very limited. In contrast, their aquatic sistergroup, baleen whales (Mysticeti) retain small but functional olfactory organs, and nothing is known about(More)
Although modern baleen whales (Mysticeti) retain a functional olfactory system that includes olfactory bulbs, cranial nerve I and olfactory receptor genes, their olfactory capabilities have been reduced to a great degree. This reduction likely occurred as a selective response to their fully aquatic lifestyle. The glomeruli that occur in the olfactory bulb(More)
The evolutionary success of mammals is rooted in their high metabolic rate. A high metabolic rate is sustainable thanks to efficient food processing and that in turn is facilitated by precise occlusion of the teeth and the acquisition of rhythmic mastication. These major evolutionary innovations characterize most members of the Class Mammalia. Cetaceans are(More)
Recent members of the order Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) move in the water by vertical tail beats and cannot locomote on land. Their hindlimbs are not visible externally and the bones are reduced to one or a few splints that commonly lack joints. However, cetaceans originated from four-legged land mammals that used their limbs for locomotion(More)