Peru’s coast spans hundreds of miles along the Pacific Ocean, home to thousands of species of marine life. Recently, researchers unearthed a 36.4 million year-old fossil belonging to an ancient whale. The discovery fills an academic gap that researchers struggled with, which left them wondering about certain aspects of baleen whales. Baleen whales include humpbacks and blue whales. Nick Pyenson, a paleontologist revealed that this was the discovery that they had all been waiting for.
Let us learn a little bit about the baleen whales
If you were wondering when whales originally evolved, it was almost 50 million years ago. You might be surprised to learn that whales were initially land animals, which after crawling into the sea, traded their legs for flippers. Imagine adapting to the sea at an evolutionary level!
Today, baleen whales measure almost 20 feet in length and can weigh up to 3,000 kg. They are not as flexible as seals but they can swim at a speed of 37 kilometers per hour. We can imagine that to be the average speed of a taxi in a city with good roads and not much traffic. Baleen whales are found across the globe, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In regions where it is cold, their blubber, a layer of fat, keeps them warm and comfortable.
It is difficult to measure their intelligence because they are too huge in size. You never know, they just might be smarter than the ones who vote for a political party you disagree with! Unfortunately, many baleen whales were hunted in the Arctic and in the South Pacific. Whaling is now banned and you can imagine these majestic animals to be swimming around the world’s oceans majestically, having evolved from one of their ancestors that whose fossil was found in Peru recently.
Peru finds itself in the centre stage of whale research
All this while, most of the whale fossils that have been found were located in the northern hemisphere. The recent discovery gives Peru a unique title of being one of the few places where whale fossils were recently found. The research team is planning to discover many more fossils in the region, which will eventually help us to understand whales and their evolution better. The next time you are in Peru, do not forget to catch glimpses of whales, when you are at the beach. If you are lucky, you might find one.
Via: Scientific American