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Fossil of prehistoric four-legged whale discovered in Peru

Peregocetus Pacificus whale fossil

Scientists have unearthed the fossil of a 43-million-year-old whale in Peru, which was adapted to living both on land and in water.

The mammal is thought to have been around four metres (13 feet) long and had four legs, webbed feet and hooves as well as a tail. The discovery adds further light to our understanding of how whales and dolphins evolved.

The fossil was found in 2011 about 1 km inland from Peru's Pacific coast at Playa Media Luna.

What makes the discovery even more exciting is that this is the first ever discovery of an amphibious whale in the Pacific Ocean. Scientists believed the first whales evolved in South Asia around 40 million years ago before migrating to other regions as they became more adapted to living in water.

The new whale has been named Peregocetus pacificus, which means "the travelling whale that reached the Pacific".

Full report: An Amphibious Whale from the Middle Eocene of Peru Reveals Early South Pacific Dispersal of Quadrupedal Cetaceans

Authors: Olivier Lambert, Giovanni Bianucci Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi, Claudio Di Celma, Etienne Steurbaut, Mario Urbina, Christiande Muizon

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.02.050

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