Fossil Friday: Pakicetus—The Original Whale
One small step for a mammal, one giant leap for cetacean-kind.
This furry little dude was a mammal belonging to the genus Pakicetus.
Pakicetus was first discovered in a 48 million year old river delta in modern day Pakistan.
Pakicetus was primarily a terrestrial animal.
Pakicetus was a first and tiny step into the oceans.
The evolution of whales was a thorn in Darwin’s side
In the first edition of Origin of Species, Darwin wrote:
"I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale," – Charles Darwin, Origin of Species 1st Edition, 1859
He was ridiculed for the idea—something many creationist organizations capitalize on to this day—and he retracted it in later editions. But really, the only thing Darwin got wrong the kind of mammal that first explored the marine realm. The process he described was pretty spot on.