World's Oldest Whale Is Found in the Himalayas
Connor, Steve, The Independent (London, England)
A FOSSILISED jawbone of the world's oldest whale has been discovered in the foothills of the Himalayas - a part of the world that was once a sea separating two ancient continents.
The find sheds new light on the evolution of one of the most successful groups of sea mammals, which became adapted to a semi- aquatic life in river estuaries and shallow seas before becoming fully marine.
Scientists have dated the fossil to about 53.5 million years old, making it 3.5 million years older than the previous oldest known member of the whale family. The ancient whale, called Himalayacetus subathuensis, probably only spent some of its time in water, returning to dry land to rest and breed. Its jawbone contains teeth that are clearly adapted to eating fish, according to Philip Gingerich, of the University of Michigan, and Sunil Bajpai, of the University of Roorkee, in northern India. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists say the fossil is a significant find because of both its extreme age and because it was found in a layer of sediments clearly associated with marine animals rather than freshwater species. H. subathuensis is considerably older than a more recent whale ancestor, Pakicetus, which has also been linked with the ancient Tethys Sea separating Asia and the Indian subcontinent before they collided to form the Himalayan mountains. Pakicetus is believed to have been the ancestor of the first truly ancient whale, archaeocetus, a fish-eater that grew to about the size of a modern porpoise and lived more than 35 …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: World's Oldest Whale Is Found in the Himalayas. Contributors: Connor, Steve - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 22, 1998. Page number: 7. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.