Skeletons of terrestrial cetaceans and the relationship of whales to artiodactyls

  title={Skeletons of terrestrial cetaceans and the relationship of whales to artiodactyls},
  author={J. G. M. Thewissen and E. Mair Williams and L. J. Roe and S. Taseer Hussain},
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 which a skeleton was known was clearly amphibious and lived in coastal environments. Here we report on the skeletons of two early Eocene… 

Diverse stem cetaceans and their phylogenetic relationships with mesonychids and artiodactyls

Detailed review and more extensive phylogenetic analyses on anthracotheriids and entelodontids will aid the clarification of uncertainties related to the hippopotamus-cetacean phylogenetic hypothesis.

An Anatomical and Phylogenetic Study of the Osteology of the Petrosal of Extant and Extinct Artiodactylans (Mammalia) and Relatives

It is shown that in many ways the osteology of the hippopotamid ear resembles that of certain stem cetaceamorphans more than it resembles the ear regions of suines (pigs and peccaries), and shortest trees indicate that these similarities are convergent.

A New Protocetid Whale (Cetacea: Archaeoceti) from the Late Middle Eocene of South Carolina

A new genus and species of protocetid cetacean is described from a partial skull, the posterior portion of both dentaries, 13 vertebrae, and elements of 15 ribs found in the Cross Member of the late middle Eocene Tupelo Bay Formation in Berkeley County, South Carolina.

A complete phylogeny of the whales, dolphins and even‐toed hoofed mammals (Cetartiodactyla)

The present species‐level tree of the Cetartiodactyla provides the first opportunity to examine comparative hypotheses across entirely aquatic and terrestrial species within a single mammalian order.

Whales originated from aquatic artiodactyls in the Eocene epoch of India

It is shown that the Eocene south Asian raoellid artiodactyls are the sister group to whales and that Raoellids were aquatic waders, which indicates that aquatic life in this lineage occurred before the origin of the order Cetacea.


  • S. Madar
  • Geography
    Journal of Paleontology
  • 2007
When both postcranial morphology and microstructure are considered, it can be concluded that pakicetid cetaceans were highly adapted for an aquatic niche.

A new protocetid whale offers clues to biogeography and feeding ecology in early cetacean evolution

Recovery of Phiomicetus from the same bed that yielded the remingtonocetid Rayanistes afer provides the first clear evidence for the co-occurrence of the basal cetacean families RemingtonOCetidae and Protocetidae in Africa.

Impact of increased character sampling on the phylogeny of Cetartiodactyla (Mammalia): combined analysis including fossils

The phylogenetic position of Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises) is an important exemplar problem for combined data parsimony analyses because the clade is ancient and includes many well‐known



The position of Cetacea within mammalia: phylogenetic analysis of morphological data from extinct and extant taxa.

Knowledge of the phylogenetic position of the order Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) within Mammalia is of central importance to evolutionary biologists studying the transformations of

The emergence of whales : evolutionary patterns in the origin of Cetacea

Synopsis of the Earliest Cetaceans: Pakicetidae, Ambulocet Families, Remingtonocet families, and Protocetidae; and implications of Vertebral Morphology for Locomoter Evolution in Early Cetacea.

New species of protocetid archaeocete whale, Eocetus wardii (Mammalia: Cetacea) from the middle Eocene of North Carolina

  • M. Uhen
  • Biology
    Journal of Paleontology
  • 1999
A new species of protocetid archaeocete, Eocetus wardii n. sp., is named based on material from the late Lutetian (middle Eocene, 43-44 Ma) Comfort Member of the Castle Hayne Formation, North

Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Aquatic Locomotion in Archaeocete Whales

The fossil indicates that archaic whales swam by undulating their vertebral column, thus forcing their feet up and down in a way similar to modern otters.

Terrestrial Mesonychia to Aquatic Cetacea: Transformation of the Basicranium and Evolution of Hearing in Whales

Morphological and stratigraphic evidence indicates that land-living mesonychian ungulates are broadly ancestral to early amphibious and later aquatic cetaceans. The transition from terrestrial

Additional holotype remains of Ambulocetus natans (Cetacea, Ambulocetidae), and their implications for locomotion in early whales

Contin excavation at the type locality of Ambulocetus natans led to the recovery of a majority of the axial skeleton of the holotype, including both innominates, the sacrum, and most of the thoracic cage and thoracolumbar vertebral column, suggesting that previous estimates of spinal length derived from models of mesonychid ancestry may be inaccurate.

A new Eocene archaeocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from India and the time of origin of whales.

  • S. BajpaiP. Gingerich
  • Geography, Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1998
Himalayacetus subathuensis is a new pakicetid archaeocete from the Subathu Formation of northern India that has a small mandibular canal and Pakicetus-like molar teeth suggesting that it fed on fish.

A new middle Eocene protocetid whale (Mammalia: Cetacea: Archaeoceti) and associated biota from Georgia

A shallow-marine fossil biota was recovered from the Blue Bluff unit (formerly part of the McBean Formation) in the Upper Coastal Plain of eastern Georgia. Biochronologically significant mollusks

New whale from the Eocene of Pakistan and the origin of cetacean swimming

This is the oldest fossil whale described from deep-neritic shelf deposits, and it shows that tail swimming evolved early in the history of cetaceans.

Ankle morphology of the earliest Cetaceans and its implications for the phylogenetic relations among ungulates.

Tarsal data do not support Cete (Mesonychia plus Cetacea) and are consistent with the exclusion of perissodactyls from paenungulates as suggested by some molecular studies.