Whales are the monsters of the sea, the real life leviathans that continue to captivate and command the attention of tourists, fishermen, and seafarers the world over because of their immense size and gentle nature.
But not all whales have been created equal on this home planet we call Earth, as evidenced by a remarkable find on the coast of Peru announced recently.
If you know anything about the historical depth of research that has been found among A̳n̳c̳i̳e̳n̳t̳ sea creatures you probably know that scientists have found evidence of some pretty strange creatures underneath the surface of the ocean, and through fossil records that have been uncovered over the years.
Most of our ocean life still has not been found or catalogued…It’s like a whole different planet beneath our ocean depths.
In this case, a prehistoric quadruped found in Peru is said to have been similar to a modern-day otter or beaver — it just happens to be a member of the whale species, and it offers clues as to the shroud of mystery that surrounds life on this planet and beyond.
Not the biggest whale ever but a rare specimen
This particular whale species was found to be about 13 feet long; not the biggest whale ever by a long shot but certainly a startling and once-in-a-lifetime find.
But here’s the kicker, ladies and gentlemen — it just so happens that this particular whale most likely had the ability to walk on land, according to an article from Gizmodo on the surprising recent find.
The species is called Peregocetus pacificus, and it may offer clues as to how many modern sea mammals changed over the years.
Believe it or not, modern dolphins and whales originally came from small, four-limbed, hoofed animals that lived in South Asia during the Eocene around 50 million years ago. Evolutionary biologists are now being forced to reassess the established timeframes as a result of this discovery. Here’s why.
The scientific community had previously hypothesized that these animals made it to North America about 41.2 million years ago.
But the newly discovered quadrupedal whale is 42.6 million years old, meaning that these scientists could have some explaining to do.
“This is the first indisputable record of a quadrupedal whale skeleton for the whole Pacific Ocean, probably the oldest for the Americas, and the most complete outside India and Pakistan,” explained lead author Olivier Lambert on the finding.
Lambert is a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
This particular whale was adept at traveling both on land and on sea, and also had webbed appendages.
Eventually they made their way to North America, according to a report from allthatsinteresting.com.
“This is a genuinely surprising discovery based on a relatively complete fossil skeleton that shows that really A̳n̳c̳i̳e̳n̳t̳ whales capable of swimming and walking made it to the Americas much earlier than previously thought,” he said.
The discovery is just another clue that we don’t know nearly as much about the history of life on this planet as we thought we did…And life that may be on other planets, for that matter.