- The fossilized remains were found in marine sediments of 42.6 million years in Playa Media Luna of Peru.
- Researchers say that four-legged whales were equally adept on land and water.
- The whale discovered in 2011 was about 13 feet long and moved like an otter in the water.
The fossilized remains of an ancient four-legged whale with otter characteristics have been discovered in marine sediments along the coast of Peru.
According to scientists, cetaceans., the group of mammals that includes dolphins and whales, evolved from a small ancestor of four legs with hooves that roamed the Earth during the Eocene period, which lasted from 56 to 33.9 million years ago.
In 2011, the fossilized remains of one of these amphibian four-legged creatures were found in marine sediments of 42.6 million years in the Media Luna Beach of Peru. The discovery has helped shed some light on the evolution of cetaceans.said an international team of researchers in a report published on Thursday in Current Biology.
"This is the first indisputable record of a quadrupedal whale skeleton "Across the Pacific Ocean, probably the oldest in America and the most complete outside India and Pakistan," said Olivier Lambert, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, in a press release.
The whale that since then received the name of Peregocetus pacificus, which means "the traveling whale that reached the Pacific", had small hooves on the tips of its appendages. The hulls, along with the morphology of the hips and limbs of the creature, suggest that the whale could walk on land.
On the other hand, the "anatomical characteristics of the tail and feet, including the long and probably webbed appendages, similar to an otter, indicate that it was also a good swimmer," the researchers point out.
The whale was about 13 feet long, including its tail, and was able to maneuver its great body both on land and in the water. The movement in the water would have been similar to the otters, the researchers say.
Scientists believe that four-legged whales originated in South Asia and as their bodies adapted to water, they first migrated to the west coast of Africa before traveling westward to South America through surface currents. After arriving in South America, it is believed that the whales then migrated north to North America, where other fossils have been found.
"The whales are this iconic example of evolution."Travis Park, a former whale researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, told the BBC." They went from small mammals with hooves to the blue whale we have today. It's so interesting to see how they conquered the oceans. "