Snipping out a lot:
Anaxagoras wrote: ↑
Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:49 am
The 13-foot-long mammal, named Peregocetus pacificus, represents a crucial intermediate step before whales became fully adapted to a marine existence, the scientists said on Thursday.
It's not "crucial", or only in a very general sense, as whales' ancestry is already well known. The original paper says it nicely:
https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fu ... 19)30220-9
Cetaceans originated in south Asia more than 50 million years ago (mya), from a small quadrupedal artiodactyl ancestor. Amphibious whales gradually dispersed westward along North Africa and arrived in North America before 41.2 mya. However, fossil evidence on when, through which pathway, and under which locomotion abilities these early whales reached the New World is fragmentary and contentious. Peregocetus pacificus gen. et sp. nov. is a new protocetid cetacean discovered in middle Eocene (42.6 mya) marine deposits of coastal Peru, which constitutes the first indisputable quadrupedal whale record from the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Hemisphere. Preserving the mandibles and most of the postcranial skeleton, this unique four-limbed whale bore caudal vertebrae with bifurcated and anteroposteriorly expanded transverse processes, like those of beavers and otters, suggesting a significant contribution of the tail during swimming. The fore- and hind-limb proportions roughly similar to geologically older quadrupedal whales from India and Pakistan, the pelvis being firmly attached to the sacrum, an insertion fossa for the round ligament on the femur, and the retention of small hooves with a flat anteroventral tip at fingers and toes indicate that Peregocetus was still capable of standing and even walking on land. This new record from the southeastern Pacific demonstrates that early quadrupedal whales crossed the South Atlantic and nearly attained a circum-equatorial distribution with a combination of terrestrial and aquatic locomotion abilities less than 10 million years after their origin and probably before a northward dispersal toward higher North American latitudes.
So it's mostly about "how did they get to the New World?"
A family tree from the same paper (lots
of "transitional species"):
(Artiodactyls, BTW, are the even-hoofed beasties: "The roughly 220 land-based even-toed ungulate species include pigs, peccaries, hippopotamuses, camels, llamas, alpacas, mouse deer, deer, giraffes, antelopes, sheep, goats, and cattle." They digest cellulose in their chambered stomachs, while their uneven-hoofed cousins (horses, rhinos, &c.) use their intestines for that. (From Wikipedia))
I think the press likes the "transitional species" because creationists are convinced that "show me the transitional species!" is a terribly clever argument. When you do that it of course creates two new gaps (sadly, we don't know everything
) and they can snigger some more.
And gOD is in the gaps, as we know.
All that being pedantically said, I see no "collateral damage" here. But to contribute to the "icky" part à la Abdul, hippos have a worm living happily under their eyelids. Blargh!