Monday, November 06, 2006

Ballerinas that have fins that you'll never find

I never knew this, but apparently many scientists believe that dolphins are highly-evolved dog-like creatures that used to live on land and have four legs. What?

An article in Britain's Daily Mail today talks about a dolphin caught off the coast of Japan that has an extra set of fins in the back, about the size of human hands, that may be remnants of the second set of legs.

Experts believe that the dolphin's ancestor was a dog-like creature which roamed the earth many millions of years ago. And now the extraordinary discovery of a bottlenosed dolphin with an extra set of flippers has provided living proof of the theory.

At first glance it looks like any other of its kind. But closer inspection reveals a rogue set of rear fins.

Each the size of a human hand, the fins are thought to be the remains of a pair of hind legs, adding to evidence that dolphins once walked on all fours.

I knew dolphins were supposed to be really, really smart (and I even once heard that someone, somewhere, posited a theory that dolphins were evolved humans, but I have no idea where this came from, or where I heard it).

I love shit like this, though. It's so exciting and always makes me wonder where humans are headed.

Recent fossil finds support the belief that, 50million years ago, forerunners of the present deep-sea mammals had limbs and were quick on their feet.

The creatures, which belonged to a group called Pakicetids, looked like a cross between a wolf and a tapir and had large heads, long powerful tails, spindly legs and ankle bones well adapted for running.

They also had bones in their ears which are unique to cetaceans, the sea family to which whales and dolphins belong.

It is thought the dolphin's land-loving ancestors first crawled into the sea to escape predators or seek food between 50million and 35million years ago.

Their hind legs became smaller and smaller before eventually disappearing altogether. The new aerodynamic shape reduced drag in the water, speeding their swimming.

God, that's amazing! It makes me positively giddy. I had no idea.

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