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Artist's conception of male Maiacetus inuus with transparent overlay of skeleton.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of John Klausmeyer and Bonnie Miljour, University of Michigan

Early Whales Gave Birth on Land
News story originally written on February 3, 2009

Scientists discovered two fossil whales in 2000 and 2004 in Pakistan. They dug up the fossils, transported them back to labs, cleaned off the fossils and then worked on the fossils for a few years. Their hard work paid off! Some important findings were made!

The fossils that were found were very old (47.5 million-years-old)! The fossils were actually a female and male primitive whale. And the female was pregnant. It was discovered that the mom whale would have delivered her baby on land. This was during a time when whales came on land to rest, mate and give birth to young.

The whales had big teeth that would have been good for catching and eating fish, suggesting the animals really did spend most of their time in the sea.

Scientists named this primitive whale Maiacetus. This was an important fossil find because it showed one of the important steps that whales took as they made the transition from full-time land animals to ocean creatures.

Last modified May 15, 2009 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA