How Did Whales Evolve?

Hundred of millions of years ago, sea creatures crawled up on land and started to become mammals. Then much later, a few went back into the sea, but left few fossils to show us how they did it -or at least that's what we used to think.
For more than a century, our knowledge of the whale fossil record was so sparse that no one could be certain what the ancestors of whales looked like. Now the tide has turned. In the space of just three decades, a flood of new fossils has filled in the gaps in our knowledge to turn the origin of whales into one of the best-documented examples of large-scale evolutionary change in the fossil record. These ancestral creatures were stranger than anyone ever expected. There was no straight-line march of terrestrial mammals leading up to fully aquatic whales, but an evolutionary riot of amphibious cetaceans that walked and swam along rivers, estuaries and the coasts of prehistoric Asia. As strange as modern whales are, their fossil predecessors were even stranger.

These fossils raise almost as many questions as they answer. Read more at Smithsonian magazine. Link

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

There are plenty of "mistakes" in evolution, but not in the way you are looking at it, Kevin. Mutations can be detrimental to an individual creature, and those individuals often don't survive to reproduce. Mutations that are beneficial are likely to be passed to the next generation. The evolution of an entire species in a certain direction is not such a mistake, but is a means for the creature to find a niche in which to be successful. An entire species changing to adapt to a completely different environment, like mammals who went back to the sea, is often a response to a changing environment.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
@kevin george

well seeing as how mammals currently live in both land and sea id say they are both fit. no mistakes in variation...just variation
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Kevin, the answer to your question is: no and no. If you don't understand what evolution is, please don't try to suggest that somewhere there is a 'mistake'. There are no mistakes, but there are misconceptions, and you've found a few of them. Google for the answers, or if you're really interested, read the article and the book from which it's taken: Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature, by Brian Switek.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
So evolution is based in part on survival of the fittest, right? Some bright fish climbs onto land and evolves into a mammal because it is more fit, then crawls back into the sea, because it turns out that's really more fit. Was there a mistake in evolution, or is evolution the mistake?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"How Did Whales Evolve? "

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More