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Whales, not whippos, part II: Science
As promised, the other new whale origin paper:
Gingerich, P.D., M. ul Haq, I.S. Zalmout, I.H. Khan & M.S. Malkani. 2001.
Origin of whales from early artiodactyls: hands and feet of Eocene
Protoectidae from Pakistan. Science 293: 2239-2242.
Introduces the new genus & species _Artiocetius clavis_ and the new species
_Rodhocetus balochistanensis_. The skull of _Artiocetus_ is nearly complete
and is a thing of beauty! Postcrania of both taxa are well preserved. The
feet of _Rodhocetus_ look like an artiodactyl trying to be a sealion (which,
in a sense, is their interpretation of its ecology).
The net result seems to be that the fossil anatomy of basal whales pretty
much clinches their phylogenetic position: whales are closer to artiodactyls
than to any other living taxon AND are closer to artiodactyls than to the
majority of fossil mammals considered "mesonychids". Sure, more work needs
to be done, but it looks pretty strong.
Hope everyone is doing fine. Take care,
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Department of Geology Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland College Park Scholars
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 301-405-4084 Email: email@example.com
Fax (Geol): 301-314-9661 Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796