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Do Elephants Have Knees? And Other Stories of Darwinian Origins$
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Charles R., Jr. Ault

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704673

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704673.001.0001

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The Higgledy-Piggledy Whale

The Higgledy-Piggledy Whale

Leviathan’s Walk, Paddle, and Gallop to the Sea

(p.143) 10 The Higgledy-Piggledy Whale
Do Elephants Have Knees? And Other Stories of Darwinian Origins

Charles R. Ault

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines where the whales came from and how they entered the sea. Based on fossil evidence, landlubber whales preceded blubbered whales. By some higgledy-piggledy process (formally known as “natural selection”), wading whales donned flippers and flukes, bulked up, and tuned their hearing to underwater sound. The cetaceans' return to the sea might be explained by the possibility that families of truly ancient not-yet-whales may have submerged themselves in water to escape predation. This chapter analyzes fossils recovered from the now defunct Tethys Sea by paleontologist Philip Gingerich and his colleagues. It also discusses the whale's relationship to the hippopotamus; the legal tussle in D. Graham Burnett's Trying Leviathan over whether or not whales are fish; the pertinence of the nose to the whale; and how the whale got its baleen. The chapter suggests that evolution appears to have pulled the ancestors of the whale by the ear into the sea.

Keywords:   whales, cetaceans, fossils, Tethys Sea, Philip Gingerich, hippopotamus, Trying Leviathan, fish, baleen, evolution

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