Whale evolution – deer me. New “Whale Evolution” theory reported in BBC News 7 July 2009. After observing two species of mouse deer in Asia jumping into water and swimming submerged for several minutes biologists have suggested that this was the starting point for ruminants (animals such as deer, sheep, goats and cows) to evolve into whales. The belief that ruminants are the ancestors of whales was bolstered in 2007 when Hans Thewissen of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine found a fossil of a ruminant animal that looked like a small deer, but “also had morphological features that showed it could be an ancestor of early whales”.

Researchers carrying out a biodiversity survey in northern Central Kalimantan Province in Borneo, Indonesia, observed a deer swimming in a river for over an hour. Other researchers have observed mouse deer in Sri Lanka remain in pond after escaping from a mongoose. Zoologist Erik Meijaard commented: “The behaviour is interesting because it is unexpected. Deer are supposed to walk on land and graze not swim underwater.”


Editorial Comment: Dogs and many other mammals also regularly jump into water and swim. Does that mean they are on their way to becoming whales? According to the logic expounded by the researchers above one of the editors of this newsletter has started to evolve into a whale after jumping into a river and remaining there to escape a swarm of bees. Meanwhile, the deer were too busy escaping from predators to read the biology textbook that says they aren’t supposed to swim underwater. (Ref. fossils, wildlife, behaviour)

Evidence News 8 July 2009