Date and Time
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN
The origin of whales is one of the great classic examples of an evolutionary transition where a highly distinct group evolves from another. In this case marine swimmers from terrestrial mammals. For decades the consensus was that cetaceans (whales) had originated in the Palaeogene from a group of terrestrial semi-carnivorous archaic mammals called Mesonychids. But very recently published finds show that cetaceans are more closely related to artiodactyls - hoofed mammals! In addition to this information,the geology and the palaeoecology of the locality (Eastern Tethys) in which whales show their origin will be covered. This geological information allows the reconstruction of the environmental and ecological conditions that facilitated the beginnings of cetaceans. Whale origins will be considered from the viewpoint of the palaeobiology and ecology of the remarkable mammals and also the geological data that provides the essential background to this classic example of evolution.
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