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April 14, 2019

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March of the whales

Paleontologists have found a fossil of a four-legged amphibious ancestor of whales, shedding new light on the mammals’ transition from land to the ocean.

Paleontologists have previously found partial fossils in North America that were 41.2 million years old.

The new specimen, described in Current Biology as 42.6 million years old, was found near Peru’s Pacific coast. It was about 4 meters long and could likely both walk and swim.

“Part of the tail’s vertebrae showed similarities with that of present-day semi-aquatic mammals like otters,” said lead researcher Olivier Lambert.Use of its tail to swim separates it from older fossils which have been found in India and Pakistan.


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