Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Found: Whale Thought Extinct for 2 Million Years

The pygmy whale, a mysterious cetacean that looks radically different from all living whales, is actually the last living member of a group thought to have gone extinct 2 million years ago.

 
The pygmy right whale, a mysterious and elusive creature that rarely comes to shore, is the last living relative of an ancient group of whales long believed to be extinct, a new study suggests.

The findings, published today (Dec. 18) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, may help to explain why the enigmatic marine mammals look so different from any other living whale.

"The living pygmy right whale is, if you like, a remnant, almost like a living fossil," said Felix Marx, a paleontologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "It's the last survivor of quite an ancient lineage that until now no one thought was around."

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