Evolutionary History

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The Narwhal, or Monodon monoceros, belongs to the Cetacean order. Traditionally, the theory of cetacean evolution was that whales were related to the Mesonychids, an extinct order of carnivorous ungulates (hoofed animals), which resembled wolves with hooves and were related to the Artiodactyls (even-toed hoofed mammals). Scientists believed this because these animals had unusual triangular teeth, resembling those of whales, which compose the Cetacean order.

Fossil Of A Mesonychid

On the contrary, more recent data suggest that whales, including narwhals, are more closely related to the Artiodactyls, and in particular, the hippopotamus. However, the earliest ancestors of hippos do not appear in fossil records until millions of years after Pakicetus, the first known whale ancestor. Due to this, scientists are unsure how closely related hippos and narwhals truly are.

Skull Of A Member Of The Family Pakicetus

Skull Of A Member Of The Family Pakicetus

The discovery of skeletons of the Pakicetus family shows that whales did not derive directly from Mesonychids, but are Artiodactyls. Newly located skeletons prove that the Cetacean order are Artiodactyls that began to take to the water soon after Artiodactyls split from Mesonychids.

The Proper Chart Of Whale Evolution From The Artiodactyl Order

The Proper Chart Of Whale Evolution From The Artiodactyl Order

Traditionally Accepted Chart Of Whale Lineage, Leading To The Odontoceti, The Suborder That Narwhals Belong To

Traditionally Accepted Chart Of Whale Lineage, Leading To The Odontoceti, The Suborder That Narwhals Belong To

Evolutionary Tree Of Narwhals

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5 responses to “Evolutionary History

  1. Hey Jacob. You have excellent information on this page, and I love all the images of the fossils and the evolutionary trees. The only changes you should make are, capitalize the Orders “Mesonychids” and “Artiodactyls” everywhere you use these words, and remove the italicization of the word “Pakicetus” in the second and third paragraphs. In taxonomy, all categories are capitalized with normal type except Genus, which is capitalized and italicized, and species, which is lower case and italicized.

    One other change I would make is rearranging the three evolutionary tree images at the bottom of the page. Try putting the “Proper Chart of Whale Evolution” on the bottom (and make it larger); and shrink down the “Evolutionary Tree of Narwhals” so it can feet to the right of the “Traditionally Accepted Chart.” However, you may leave the images as is if you wish, as I know that you were trying to compare the “traditional” view to the “proper” view.

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  2. Great job on this page, i love the pictures you used

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  3. Thank you for helping me with my evolution project

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  4. wow! This is so amazing… Thank you Jacob you helped me so much on my Narwhal essay…

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  5. Thanks really needed this for a project man!!

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