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Scientists Discover Whales That Used To Walk On Land

A 43 million-year-old fossil of a whale with four legs, webbed feet and hooves was discovered in Peru.

Palaeontologists believe the marine animals four-metre-long (13 ft) body was adapted to swim as well as walk on land.

You might think of whales as the ultimate ocean-dweller, and although that might be true today…

Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) originated in South Asia more than 50 million years ago from a small, four-legged, hoofed ancestor that lived on land (below).

Indohyus, a furry ancestor of modern whales

The newest discovery had four strong limbs which were capable of carrying its weight as well as a powerful tail.

This part-land part-water whale has been compared to the likes of an otter or a beaver.

Researchers now believe that this discovery could shed some more light on the evolution of the whale.

“This is the most complete specimen ever found for a four-legged whale outside of India and Pakistan,” said Dr Olivier Lambert, a scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and co-author of the study.

WATCH: The majestic blue whale

It was found off Peru’s Pacific coast and the location has piqued researchers interest.

This is because the first whales are thought to have evolved in South Asia around 50 million years ago.

As their bodies became better suited to water, they migrated further afield to North Africa and America.

This latest discovery suggests early whales managed to swim there from South America.

“Whales are this iconic example of evolution,” Travis Park, an ancient whale researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, said.

“They went from small hoofed mammals to the blue whale we have today. It’s so interesting to see how they conquered the oceans.”

READ: Whale Song Patterns That Can Predict Migration

WATCH: The song of the blue whale

Joe Kahlo

Written by Joe Kahlo

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