The Evolution of Whales from Land to Sea

Whales were long an enigma, but recently our knowledge of whale evolution has become rather rich. Molecular genetic evidence (see Chapter 10 for the nature of this kind of evidence) shows that the closest living cousins of whales are hippos, then pigs, then ruminants. Even more surprisingly, the molecular evidence shows that hippos are more closely related to whales than they are to the cloven-hoofed animals (such as pigs and ruminants) which look much more like them. This is another example of the mismatch that can sometimes arise between closeness of cousinship and degree of physical resemblance. We noted it above in connection with fish that are closer cousins to us than they are to other fish. In that case, the anomaly arose because our lineage left the water for the land, and consequently surged away in evolution, leaving our close fish cousins, the lungfish and coelacanths, resembling our more distant fish cousins because they all stayed in the water. Now we meet the same phenomenon again, but in reverse. Hippos stayed, at least partly, on land, and so still resemble their more distant land-dwelling cousins, the ruminants, while their closer cousins, the whales, took off into the sea and changed so drastically that their affinities with hippos escaped all biologists except molecular geneticists. As when their remote fishy ancestors originally went in the other direction, it was a bit like taking off into space, or at least like launching a balloon, as the ancestors of whales floated free of the constraining burden of gravity and severed their moorings to dry land.


The opposite of sea animals evolving to live on land.

Folksonomies: evolution species

/pets/large animals (0.587078)
/business and industrial/agriculture and forestry/livestock (0.362622)
/family and parenting/children (0.317263)

closest living cousins (0.943763 (neutral:0.000000)), distant fish cousins (0.843929 (negative:-0.499598)), distant land-dwelling cousins (0.840772 (negative:-0.467405)), close fish cousins (0.827842 (negative:-0.369681)), whales (0.703661 (positive:0.286539)), Molecular genetic evidence (0.689777 (neutral:0.000000)), remote fishy ancestors (0.643014 (negative:-0.399723)), hippos (0.587277 (neutral:0.000000)), closer cousins (0.561927 (positive:0.224666)), Sea The opposite (0.408523 (neutral:0.000000)), physical resemblance (0.405956 (neutral:0.000000)), whale evolution (0.388298 (positive:0.461523)), sea animals (0.371996 (neutral:0.000000)), molecular evidence (0.369767 (neutral:0.000000)), ruminants (0.364198 (negative:-0.250714)), cloven-hoofed animals (0.358648 (neutral:0.000000)), molecular geneticists (0.339162 (neutral:0.000000)), dry land (0.324160 (neutral:0.000000))

lungfish:Person (0.765984 (neutral:0.000000))

Whale (0.947965): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Evolution of cetaceans (0.791331): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Cousin (0.701173): dbpedia | freebase
Cetartiodactyla (0.694597): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Hippopotamus (0.687637): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Ocean (0.667609): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
DNA (0.625934): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Molecular biology (0.604312): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dawkins, Richard (2010-08-24), The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Free Press, Retrieved on 2011-05-19
Folksonomies: evolution science


04 SEP 2011

 Why Evolution is True

Memes that support the Theory of Evolution