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No. 55: Jan-Feb 1988

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A Glitch In The Evolution Of Whales

S.A. McLeod, a paleontologist at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, has been studying the bones of a 10-million-year-old whale found in a backyard in Southern California. It is claimed that these bones "will fill an im portant gap in (the) knowledge of the evolution of whales." Actually, the opposite seems to be the case.

"One of the interesting things about the discovery is that it appears 'this guy didn't follow the same evolutionary path as living whales,' McLeod says. Sperm whales today have well-developed teeth only in the lower jaw, whereas the fossil whale shows evidence of very large, very welldeveloped teeth in both upper and lower jaws."

(Tyndall, Katie; "A Whale's Legacy," Insight, 49, June 15, 1987. Cr. C. Stiles.)

Comment. One would think that a full mouth of teeth would serve sperm whales better, especially in their battles with the giant squid they prey upon. Is evolution reversing for whales?

From Science Frontiers #55, JAN-FEB 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss