Whale Evolution and Fossils
Whales have fascinated us for a very long time, and you may have studied about them with the basics or in depth. However, have you ever stopped to consider how they came to be what we know them as today? The issue of whale evolution is one that is very interesting. In the past a great deal of the information about it was based upon theory. With the technology we have today though there is more that can be said with great certainty about them.
It is believed that whales are more than 54 million years old. They have been able to adapt to their environments which is why they have been able to thrive as things have changed throughout history. Since they have no natural predators, they were safer in those earlier times. Due to the pollution, ships in the waters, and humans destroying them some species of whales are suffering as their numbers dip drastically low.
For millions of years it is believed that whales spend their entire lives in water. However, it is also believed that the evolved from creatures that were once able to walk on land as well. This comes from the idea that they are mammals and the fact that so many of the remains of previous generations of creatures have been located. Many of them strongly resemble aspects of the whale we see today. However, these creatures were definitely able to walk on land as well as to move around in the waters.
Conditions on land may have forced them to spend more time in the water. They may have had a hard time finding food on land. The heat may have been another factor as whales don’t have very much hair on them. The water may have offered them a place to cool off and to find food to survive on. Over time, their appendages changed to offer them more control over their movements in the water.
As the atmosphere temperatures began to change, further evolution took place. During certain times of the year the water was simply too cold for the whales to survive due to them being warm blooded. Therefore the patterns of migration evolved. As a result these whales prepared for the movement by eating more and packing on more blubber.
It is believed that whales once had fingers and possibly hooves for some of the species. Over time though they no longer needed these items and as new generations of offspring came along, those parts of the body were transformed into something that they could use. The genetic pool was made up of the fittest that survived such evolution patterns. This is why they were able to pass along those genetic DNA patterns to the new additions.
Most of what we have been able to prove in regards to whale evolution has been put together in the past 25 years. This is highly due to the findings of Phil Gingerich who is a Paleontologist. He has found key remains of bones and skulls that help to prove this type of idea relating to whale evolution. Fossil records continue to be documented so that such information can be categorized.
There is still quite a bit that we don’t know about whale evolution though. As a result it is important to remember that not everything you read about it will be accurate. It may change as new information is explored and new types of technology become available. What evolution is a great way to learn more about whales so make sure you take the time to explore this angle of them.