Deerlike Mammal Was Whale Ancestor?

Deerlike Mammal Was Whale Ancestor?
<< Previous   2 of 3   Next >>
A southern right whale and calf breach the ocean surface near South Africa, in this undated photo.

A recent study indicates that a semiaquatic, raccoon-size mammal called Indohyus represents the ''missing link'' in the evolution of whales.

The structure of the animal's skull and ear show Indohyus was closely related to whales, the study team said, adding that the density of its bones and the chemistry of its teeth suggest it spent much of its time in the water.

But the crucial piece of evidence that would link the animal to whales is the ear bone covering the animal's middle ear, said Philip D. Gingerich, a University of Michigan paleontologist. Full analysis of the ear is missing in the new paper, he said.

Gingerich thinks that more convincing information is needed than what is provided in the study.

More Photos in the News
Today's Top 15 Most Popular Stories
Free Email Newsletter: "Focus on Photography"
—Photograph by Bobby Haas/National Geographic/Getty Images
 
NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS




 

50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.