PBS video shows how wolves evolved from whales

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I think it’s pretty safe to say that when it comes to evolution, most people usually imagine aquatic life forms growing legs and then coming to land…not the other way around .

Shockingly enough, a creature almost synonymous with the sea didn’t actually start out that way. And boy, is this a whale of a tale.

Mind-blowing video recently released by PBS Eons reveals whales were actually predators ground animals… the same ones that will later become wolves, precisely.

Yes, you read that right. Land animals. With arms and legs and everything.

To explain it, we will have to go back 52 million years.


Before the warm, rainy Eocene, the same period that brought us the first horses and bats, whales looked more like the image below.

Something like a cross between a wolf and a crocodile, if you ask me.

You know it’s warmer underwater.

Youtube

Yes, animals moved from the sea to the land, bringing us the first mammals. But then, over time, some mammals were like, “No, it’s this ocean life for me.” Including some of these guys.

These creatures first entered the water during the Eocene period and eventually switched arms to become “more elegant and streamlined”, while retaining their teeth.

Now they look less like a wolf than a murderous dolphin.

whale evolution, whale science

You are welcome for Nightmare Fuel.

Youtube

About 34 to 36 million years ago, species diversified into the two main groups of whales we see today: the Odontocetes (or “toothed whales”), which include sperm whales, killer whales and dolphins, and the better known Mysticetes. as baleen whales…you know those big guys with filter-like “teeth” (aka baleen) that eat tons and tons of plankton?

The evolution of the baleen whale in particular has baffled scientists a bit, as there is no definitive evidence as to how, when, or even why they started filter-feeding. In fact, the first fossil of a baleen whale appeared about 36 million years ago, but baleen didn’t appear until later, about 11 million years ago. Even the oldest baleen ancestor, the Mystacadon, according to the PBS video, showed no signs of baleen when researchers discovered it in 2019.

One theory: the cooled ocean current of the Oligocene era resulted in an abundance of nutrients, especially plankton, which made bulk feeding more advantageous than single prey hunting. It also helps explain the giant boom of different species of whales.

Still, it’s all up for debate, and likely will be for some time, as vintage baleen is hard to come by. Baleen, unlike teeth, are made of keratin, the same biodegradable substance that hair and fingernails are made of and therefore do not fossilize well.

As the host cleverly joked, “It’s basically like a big mustache in the whale’s mouth.”

Conclusion: We know a lot about nature, but there is still so much to learn.

If you want to know more, like how the Mystacadon ate its prey by doing a super weird thing called suction feed-you can watch the full video here:

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