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Re: Cetacean Origins

James Boyer wrote:
> Hi, all:
> As part of a research project (doing background research to teach a unit
> on cetacean origins), I'm looking for current views on cetacean origins,
> particularly Mesonichid (sp.?) ancestry.  Watching "Dinosaurs and Beyond"
> on TLC raised some serious questions regarding this association (even
> among High School students :-)), as it seemed like the evidence was
> contrived at best.  

The evidence for cetacean origins isn't contrived, it's very good. 
There's a section about it, including some drawings of fossil skulls and
artists' paintings of archaeocetes, in the National Geographic book
WHALES, DOLPHINS, AND PORPOISES (c. 1988, still in print, ISBN
0-8160-1977-0).  Another look at whale evolution is given in Stephen Jay
Gould's essay "Hooking Leviathan by its Past," which is Chapter 28 of
his most recent essay-collection DINOSAUR IN A HAYSTACK.  

Beyond that, I don't know where to go for more information, other than
the formal papers themselves.  Whales are a "gee-whiz" subject with lots
of books about them, but most focus on modern whales and gloss over
their evolution.  I don't know of any book that takes a really close,
in-depth look at cetacean evolution.

-- JSW