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Hind Limbs of Eocene Basilosaurus: Evidence of Feet in Whales

Philip D. Gingerich, B. Holly Smith and Elwyn L. Simons
Science
New Series, Vol. 249, No. 4965 (Jul. 13, 1990), pp. 154-157
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2874543
Page Count: 4
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Hind Limbs of Eocene Basilosaurus: Evidence of Feet in Whales
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Abstract

New specimens of middle Eocene Basilosaurus isis from Egypt include the first functional pelvic limb and foot bones known in Cetacea. These are important in corroborating the intermediate evolutionary position of archaeocetes between generalized Paleocene land mammals that used hind limbs in locomotion and Oligocene-to-Recent whales that lack functional pelvic limbs. The foot is paraxonic, consistent with derivation from mesonychid Condylarthra. Hind limbs of Basilosaurus are interpreted as copulatory guides.

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