Locomotor evolution in the earliest cetaceans: functional model, modern analogues, and paleontological evidence

Title

Locomotor evolution in the earliest cetaceans: functional model, modern analogues, and paleontological evidence

Creator

Thewissen J G M; Fish F E

Publisher

Paleobiology

Date

1997
1997

Description

We discuss a model for the origin of cetacean swimming that is based on hydrodynamic and kinematic data of modern mammalian swimmers. The model suggests that modern otters (Mustelidae: Lutrinae) display several of the locomotor modes that early cetaceans used at different stages in the transition from land to water. We use mustelids and other amphibious mammals to analyze the morphology of the Eocene cetacean Ambulocetus natans, and we conclude that Ambulocetus may have locomoted by a combination of pelvic paddling and dorsoventral undulations of the tail, and that its locomotor mode in water resembled that of the modern otter Lutra most closely. We also suggest that cetacean locomotion may have resembled that of the freshwater otter Pteronura at a stage beyond Ambulocetus.

Subject

aquatic locomotion; Biodiversity & Conservation; efficiency; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; eocene; Evolutionary Biology; origin; otters; Paleontology; power output

Format

Journal Article

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Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Pages

482-490

Issue

4

Volume

23

Citation

Thewissen J G M; Fish F E, “Locomotor evolution in the earliest cetaceans: functional model, modern analogues, and paleontological evidence,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed August 5, 2021, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/7333.

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