Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/19/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Species is last living relative of ancient group of whale

A mysterious and elusive creature that rarely comes to shore, the pygmy right whale is the last living relative of an ancient group of whales long believed to be extinct, according to a new study. The group is believed to have gone extinct two million years ago.

The pygmy whale's arched, frown-like snout makes it look quite distinctive from other living whales.

The pygmy whale's arched, frown-like snout makes it look quite distinctive from other living whales.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/19/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Pygmy whale, extinct, lineage, whales, evolutionary, New Zealand


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - as published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, this theory may help 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," Felix Marx, a paleontologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand says. "It's the last survivor of quite an ancient lineage that until now no one thought was around."

Quite unlike the other giants of the ocean, the pygmy whale grows to just 21 feet long and lives out in the open ocean. These marine mammals inhabit the Southern Hemisphere and have only been spotted at sea a few dozen times. Scientists know next to nothing about the species' habits or social structure.

The pygmy whale's arched, frown-like snout makes it look quite distinctive from other living whales. DNA analysis suggested pygmy right whales diverged from modern baleen whales such as the blue whale and the humpback whale between 17 million and 25 million years ago.

The snouts o the pygmy whales suggest they were more closely related to the family of whales that includes the bowhead whale. Yet there were no studies of fossils showing how the pygmy whale had evolved, Marx said.

In order to trace the lineage of the pygmy whale, and how it fit into the lineage of whales, Marx and his colleagues carefully analyzed the skull bones and other fossil fragments from pygmy right whales and several other ancient cetaceans.

After research, it was determined that the pygmy whale's skull most closely resembled that of an ancient family of whales called cetotheres that were thought to have gone extinct around two million years ago. Cetotheres emerged about 15 million years ago and once occupied oceans across the globe.

The findings help explain how pygmy whales evolved and may also help shed light on how these ancient "lost" whales lived. The new information is also a first step in reconstructing the ancient lineage all the way back to the point when all members of this group first diverged, Marx said.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Green

Glacial retreat may halt Chinese dam projects Watch

Image of Tibetan glaciers supply hundreds of millions of people with water, and feed into rivers that run through China, India and much of Southeast Asia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Tibetan plateau has become warmer over the past 50 years than at any stage in the last millennia, a Chinese newspaper reported. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This report, published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, ... continue reading


Humans are doing WHAT? Watch

Image of A glacier in the Alps, one of the largest in the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new study released on August 14 reports that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the dominant cause of glacial melting in the Alps and Andes mountains. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The study, published in the journal Science, reveals that human emissions ... continue reading


NEW SPECIES: 'Graveyard' reveals 47 skeletons of new species of pterosaur Watch

Image of What separates the latest find from others of their species is that the pterosaur Caiuajara dobruskii had a large bony crest on the top of its head that changed from being small when it was young, to large and steep in adults.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A colony of previously unknown flying reptiles that lived around a desert lake in Brazil around 100 million years ago have been uncovered by scientists. The fossilized remains of at least 47 pterosaurs with wingspans ranging from two to eight feet, were ... continue reading


The cute and entertaining manatees may have a change of status: From 'endangered' to 'threatened' Watch

Image of Reaching weights as high as 3,500 pounds, manatees make a home where there are plentiful sea grasses and freshwater from estuaries and slow-moving rivers.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Visitors to Florida frequently come across blubbery animals called manatees. Resembling walruses, the comical creatures can be found along the heavily populated Florida coast. Now - there is a movement to reclassify the manatees status from "endangered" to the ... continue reading


Catholic parish accused of animal cruelty, remains silent Watch

Image of It is very likely this is a distressing event for the animal and while it may have been viewed favorably in the past, such activities are increasingly frowned upon today. The lack of statement from the parish is disconcerting. (Image via Jordan Turner.)

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An incredible commotion is brewing around a parish church in Stephensville, Wisconsin where activists have targeted a 44-year-old event that they say is cruel to animals. St. Patrick's Church holds an annual pig wrestling event were pigs are allegedly wrestled and ... continue reading


DOOMSDAY PROPHECY: 'There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we're doing today' Watch

Image of Hydroelectric energy needs are even larger than those demanded by agriculture, researchers said.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers from Denmark's Aarhus University, Vermont Law School and the U.S.-funded Center for Naval Analyses Corporation have come out with a chilling prophecy. Due to heightened demand for drinking water and energy needs, "There will be no water by 2040 if ... continue reading


What happened to all the bugs? Insect population is down by 45 percent in just 35 years Watch

Image of We rarely think of insects as being little more than everyday pests. Flies interrupting a breezy day, ant invading a picnic, crickets disrupting the quiet of an early evening.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

We rarely think of insects as being little more than everyday pests. Flies interrupting a breezy day, ant invading a picnic, crickets disrupting the quiet of an early evening. There are less bugs to worry about these days -- and scientists say this is good ... continue reading


Beware of fluffy! Those scary dinosaurs may have actually been quite comical to look at Watch

Image of Most dinosaurs may have had feathers, a new study suggests.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The discovery of several 150-million-year-old fossils in Siberia indicates that a majority of dinosaurs were either covered with feathers or had the potential to grow feathers, a new study suggests. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Until this study-published in ... continue reading


California drought likely to worsen as El Nino observed weakening Watch

Image of A sign intended to build public support for water rights for farmers now has a new significance.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bad news for California is about to get worse. The state, wracked with drought, is eagerly anticipating the formation of a strong El Nino event in the Pacific, which would bring significant rainfall to the region. However, the El Nino may not develop as strongly as ... continue reading


Bats are the super animals, science says! New study reveals that not only can these flying pest eaters see sound, but they can also see invisible light Watch

Image of Bats can see with polarized light, and may use it to navigate with, a new study says.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Polarized light may be a useful tool for bats to navigate, and the greater mouse-eared bat-Myotis myotis-is the first mammal known to navigate using polarized light. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Polarized light is light waves that are parallel to each other ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 36:23-28
23 I am going to display the holiness of my great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
12 Give me back the joy of your salvation, sustain in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14
1 Jesus began to speak to them in parables once ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 21st, 2014 Image

St. Pius X
August 21: On June 2, 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto saw the light of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter