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Scientists find missing link between whale and its closest relative, the hippo
UC Berkeley News ^ | 24 January 2005 | Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Posted on 02/08/2005 3:50:43 AM PST by PatrickHenry

A group of four-footed mammals that flourished worldwide for 40 million years and then died out in the ice ages is the missing link between the whale and its not-so-obvious nearest relative, the hippopotamus.

The conclusion by University of California, Berkeley, post-doctoral fellow Jean-Renaud Boisserie and his French colleagues finally puts to rest the long-standing notion that the hippo is actually related to the pig or to its close relative, the South American peccary. In doing so, the finding reconciles the fossil record with the 20-year-old claim that molecular evidence points to the whale as the closest relative of the hippo.

"The problem with hippos is, if you look at the general shape of the animal it could be related to horses, as the ancient Greeks thought, or pigs, as modern scientists thought, while molecular phylogeny shows a close relationship with whales," said Boisserie. "But cetaceans – whales, porpoises and dolphins – don't look anything like hippos. There is a 40-million-year gap between fossils of early cetaceans and early hippos."

In a paper appearing this week in the Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Boisserie and colleagues Michel Brunet and Fabrice Lihoreau fill in this gap by proposing that whales and hippos had a common water-loving ancestor 50 to 60 million years ago that evolved and split into two groups: the early cetaceans, which eventually spurned land altogether and became totally aquatic; and a large and diverse group of four-legged beasts called anthracotheres. The pig-like anthracotheres, which blossomed over a 40-million-year period into at least 37 distinct genera on all continents except Oceania and South America, died out less than 2 and a half million years ago, leaving only one descendent: the hippopotamus.

This proposal places whales squarely within the large group of cloven-hoofed mammals (even-toed ungulates) known collectively as the Artiodactyla – the group that includes cows, pigs, sheep, antelopes, camels, giraffes and most of the large land animals. Rather than separating whales from the rest of the mammals, the new study supports a 1997 proposal to place the legless whales and dolphins together with the cloven-hoofed mammals in a group named Cetartiodactyla.

"Our study shows that these groups are not as unrelated as thought by morphologists," Boisserie said, referring to scientists who classify organisms based on their physical characteristics or morphology. "Cetaceans are artiodactyls, but very derived artiodactyls."

The origin of hippos has been debated vociferously for nearly 200 years, ever since the animals were rediscovered by pioneering French paleontologist Georges Cuvier and others. Their conclusion that hippos are closely related to pigs and peccaries was based primarily on their interpretation of the ridges on the molars of these species, Boisserie said.

"In this particular case, you can't really rely on the dentition, however," Boisserie said. "Teeth are the best preserved and most numerous fossils, and analysis of teeth is very important in paleontology, but they are subject to lots of environmental processes and can quickly adapt to the outside world. So, most characteristics are not dependable indications of relationships between major groups of mammals. Teeth are not as reliable as people thought."

As scientists found more fossils of early hippos and anthracotheres, a competing hypothesis roiled the waters: that hippos are descendents of the anthracotheres.

All this was thrown into disarray in 1985 when UC Berkeley's Vincent Sarich, a pioneer of the field of molecular evolution and now a professor emeritus of anthropology, analyzed blood proteins and saw a close relationship between hippos and whales. A subsequent analysis of mitochondrial, nuclear and ribosomal DNA only solidified this relationship.

Though most biologists now agree that whales and hippos are first cousins, they continue to clash over how whales and hippos are related, and where they belong within the even-toed ungulates, the artiodactyls. A major roadblock to linking whales with hippos was the lack of any fossils that appeared intermediate between the two. In fact, it was a bit embarrassing for paleontologists because the claimed link between the two would mean that one of the major radiations of mammals – the one that led to cetaceans, which represent the most successful re-adaptation to life in water – had an origin deeply nested within the artiodactyls, and that morphologists had failed to recognize it.

This new analysis finally brings the fossil evidence into accord with the molecular data, showing that whales and hippos indeed are one another's closest relatives.

"This work provides another important step for the reconciliation between molecular- and morphology-based phylogenies, and indicates new tracks for research on emergence of cetaceans," Boisserie said.

Boisserie became a hippo specialist while digging with Brunet for early human ancestors in the African republic of Chad. Most hominid fossils earlier than about 2 million years ago are found in association with hippo fossils, implying that they lived in the same biotopes and that hippos later became a source of food for our distant ancestors. Hippos first developed in Africa 16 million years ago and exploded in number around 8 million years ago, Boisserie said.

Now a post-doctoral fellow in the Human Evolution Research Center run by integrative biology professor Tim White at UC Berkeley, Boisserie decided to attempt a resolution of the conflict between the molecular data and the fossil record. New whale fossils discovered in Pakistan in 2001, some of which have limb characteristics similar to artiodactyls, drew a more certain link between whales and artiodactyls. Boisserie and his colleagues conducted a phylogenetic analysis of new and previous hippo, whale and anthracothere fossils and were able to argue persuasively that anthracotheres are the missing link between hippos and cetaceans.

While the common ancestor of cetaceans and anthracotheres probably wasn't fully aquatic, it likely lived around water, he said. And while many anthracotheres appear to have been adapted to life in water, all of the youngest fossils of anthracotheres, hippos and cetaceans are aquatic or semi-aquatic.

"Our study is the most complete to date, including lots of different taxa and a lot of new characteristics," Boisserie said. "Our results are very robust and a good alternative to our findings is still to be formulated."

Brunet is associated with the Laboratoire de Géobiologie, Biochronologie et Paléontologie Humaine at the Université de Poitiers and with the Collège de France in Paris. Lihoreau is a post-doctoral fellow in the Département de Paléontologie of the Université de N'Djaména in Chad.

The work was supported in part by the Mission Paléoanthropologique Franco-Tchadienne, which is co-directed by Brunet and Patrick Vignaud of the Université de Poitiers, and in part by funds to Boisserie from the Fondation Fyssen, the French Ministère des Affaires Etrangères and the National Science Foundation's Revealing Hominid Origins Initiative, which is co-directed by Tim White and Clark Howell of UC Berkeley.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; darwin; evolution; whale
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To: houeto
After reading 350 of these threads, it appears to me that the word species is loosely-knit.

I think the definition of species works pretty well, but you'll always be able to find exceptions.

401 posted on 02/08/2005 10:31:21 AM PST by Modernman (What is moral is what you feel good after. - Ernest Hemingway)
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To: RaceBannon

You actually believe mammals, such as whales, breathe underwater?


402 posted on 02/08/2005 10:33:09 AM PST by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: Modernman
"You need to define "kind."

The original sets of animals that God made. The representatives of which Noah carried on the Ark.

Now I know you'd like me to answer whether Noah carried both lions and tigers on the Ark or just representative cats. I don't know that. I wasn't there, and the only record we have doesn't say. But we do tend to think of "cats" as all one kind, as opposed to hippos and whales, which are so dissimilar in appearance, and functionality that we don't.

403 posted on 02/08/2005 10:34:40 AM PST by DannyTN
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To: snarks_when_bored

Haven't had time. I WILL SOON!!! :-)


404 posted on 02/08/2005 10:38:16 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: stremba
If man is a product of evolution, is he not "formed from the dust of the ground"?

No.

If man is a product of evolution, he is evolved from what came before him.

The forth verse of Genesis chapter two tells us that the 7 days of creation are the "generations" of the creation of the heavens and earth. (not 7 nights and days but generations for the seas, heavens and land to populate. In that order.)

The first three chapters of the same book make it abundantly clear how separate man was from the rest of creation.

405 posted on 02/08/2005 10:38:47 AM PST by houeto ("Mr. President , close our borders now!")
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To: RaceBannon
It is clear, evolution is a fairy tale, told in a way that sounds real, but when examined, easily proven false.

Well then hell, son, go ahead and "easily prove" it false. There's a Nobel Prize in it for you if you can.

"If...."

Just look at the statements of IT COULD IT MIGHT WE THINK It only proves there is NO EVIDENCE

Okay, let me see if I have this straight -- according to you, actual facts gathered from the real world don't count as evidence of *anything*, BUT, the mere fact that some scientists use words indicating their humility actually "proves" (in your mind) that "there is NO EVIDENCE" whatsoever for evolution, period.

Have I got that right? Because if I do -- you don't.

Just a bunch of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water...just what you would expect if Noah's Flood was real.

I regret to inform you that there are a huge number of discrepancies between what is actually found "buried in rock layers", versus what one would find "if Noah's Flood was real".

But hey, you're not interested in that "evidence" stuff, so I won't trouble you with it.

And THAT mans Genesis is accurate, and evolution is a lie.

Ooooookay... Then why is God telling lies in the genome? Please explain.

406 posted on 02/08/2005 10:40:07 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Modernman; DannyTN
However, some species are still close enough that thay can interbreed.

...albeit with varying levels of success.

407 posted on 02/08/2005 10:41:00 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: DannyTN
Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me constructeth a mighty good deductive proof, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. - John 5:??

Don't think so. Science cannot shore up weak faith.

408 posted on 02/08/2005 10:41:01 AM PST by general_re (How come so many of the VKs have been here six months or less?)
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To: WildTurkey
"It is actually about a 12hp Merc. They put 9.8 on the label to get past state registration requirements"

sshhh!

409 posted on 02/08/2005 10:41:57 AM PST by patriot_wes (When I see two guys kissin..argh! Is puking a hate crime yet?)
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To: DannyTN
But we do tend to think of "cats" as all one kind, as opposed to hippos and whales, which are so dissimilar in appearance, and functionality that we don't.

What "kind" is this animal?:

The problem with your definition of "kind" is that it tends to fall apart rather easily around the edges.

410 posted on 02/08/2005 10:42:57 AM PST by Modernman (What is moral is what you feel good after. - Ernest Hemingway)
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To: RadioAstronomer
Sigh. This trend seems to be growing. :-(

I think they are just more militantly desperate as they watch their relevence to society and political influence wane.

411 posted on 02/08/2005 10:43:36 AM PST by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: Junior
Not only scientifically illiterate, but just plain illiterate.

Insisting on proper spelling and grammar is repressive!

To uneducated morons, I suppose.

412 posted on 02/08/2005 10:45:57 AM PST by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: RaceBannon

my favorite part is when they say "in the beginning there was nothing....and then it exploded!"


413 posted on 02/08/2005 10:47:52 AM PST by patriot_wes (When I see two guys kissin..argh! Is puking a hate crime yet?)
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To: PatrickHenry

Wouldn't the next Republican Convention be interesting if a few of these militant whacko nutjobs attended? It'd be wall-to-wall coverage on CNN and the MSM.


414 posted on 02/08/2005 10:51:27 AM PST by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: houeto
The first three chapters of the same book make it abundantly clear how separate man was from the rest of creation.

That was because it was written by man.

415 posted on 02/08/2005 10:52:27 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: PatrickHenry

Doesn't look like it to me.

But, hey, I thought this was a thread about Scuba Teddy K.


416 posted on 02/08/2005 10:53:02 AM PST by Quix (HAVING A FORM of GODLINESS but DENYING IT'S POWER. 2 TIM 3:5)
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To: Jaysun
I would point to what God said on day six. "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness

Then man was not created in the beginning.

417 posted on 02/08/2005 10:54:09 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: PatrickHenry

The timing of this new "proof" of macroevolution is very suspect. Funny, just when they need it the most, POOF it appears.


418 posted on 02/08/2005 10:59:53 AM PST by Right in Wisconsin
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To: WildTurkey
That was because it was written by man.

...and then along comes evolutionary science to back up the Genesis story on the order of creation. Man musta been real good at guessin' way back then.

Scary ain't it?

419 posted on 02/08/2005 11:02:02 AM PST by houeto ("Mr. President , close our borders now!")
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To: Ichneumon
Hey, hon--I'm back.

Thought you might like further help with your difficulties over the notion of "Surface Appeal" and the pitfalls that it often has for scientists (those guys who are accountable and have to give demonstrable value for their theories)

Below is a link to a study that explores the connection between poor dental hygiene (something you might associate with the Stubborn Superstitious) and coronary artery disease.. There is a line here that speaks directly to the "surface appeal" pitfall..."Desvarieux stressed that evaluation of the two conditions occurred at the same point in the lives of those studied making it impossible to ascertain at this point "which comes first, the periodontal disease or thickening of the carotid artery."...

You see, it would be an easy assumption to make--that if you take care of your teeth, your heart will be better off. But it may well be a corresponding condition, or a connecting genetic predisposition--not a cause-and-effect situation. The doc has to be careful about making a big noise over this possible discovery, since we'll shortly know whether she's right or wrong (accountability).

Just thought you might like to see what science looks like, when it's really working.

link

420 posted on 02/08/2005 11:05:00 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Ichneumon

What you fail to realize is the actual facts support Genesis, not evolution.

Billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water.

Other than that, what REAL evidence does evolution have?

NOTHING!


421 posted on 02/08/2005 11:05:12 AM PST by RaceBannon ((Prov 28:1 KJV) The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.)
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To: Ichneumon

No, those peole exist as evolutionists, they are the ones who invented the theory, not the Creationists.


422 posted on 02/08/2005 11:05:42 AM PST by RaceBannon ((Prov 28:1 KJV) The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.)
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To: RaceBannon
What you fail to realize is the actual facts support Genesis, not evolution.

Facts that you never bother to present, apart from some vague assertion of "dead things buried in rock layers" (nevermind that you don't explain how this supports your argument).

It's like you don't have any facts, but you just know that you're right.
423 posted on 02/08/2005 11:09:35 AM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: patriot_wes
my favorite part is when they say "in the beginning there was nothing....and then it exploded!"

Who says this? This isn't part of any scientific theory of which I'm aware, much less the theory of evolution.

Maybe if you would actually study what scientists say rather than lying and making up their position for them, you might carry more credibility.
424 posted on 02/08/2005 11:10:43 AM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: RaceBannon

-The order and pattern of development seen in the fossil record. Eg how plants in lower strata have no pollen, seeds or flowers and grass does not even exist

-shared genetic errors in patterns that don't contradict the evolutionary tree. ie shared retroviral insertions in chimps and humans, as well as shared vitimin C pseudogenes.

-The geographical diversity of life. eg how marcupials, and their fossils are largely confined to Australia

Who relies on chance and randomness the most? It is the people who claim all the specific patterns mentioned above are the result of a random chaotic flood.


425 posted on 02/08/2005 11:11:02 AM PST by bobdsmith
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To: houeto
Scary ain't it?

Yes. Particularly that part in Gensesis 2 where God found man lonely and created the animals for his company.

426 posted on 02/08/2005 11:14:25 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: WildTurkey
Then man was not created in the beginning.

Right. Man wasn't created "first". I suppose that's because God wanted to create a place for us to go instead of simply allowing us to float around in nothingness for a few days. I was only repeating scripture.
427 posted on 02/08/2005 11:14:43 AM PST by Jaysun (Nefarious deeds for hire.)
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To: houeto
The forth verse of Genesis chapter two tells us that the 7 days of creation are the "generations" of the creation of the heavens and earth. (not 7 nights and days but generations for the seas, heavens and land to populate. In that order.)

Genesis also says the earth was created before the stars, which could not possibly be further from the truth.

After the fact predictions are not difficult. In fact, if the bible is so full of scientific predictions, why don't you tell us something scientific from the bible before science explains it for once.
428 posted on 02/08/2005 11:16:13 AM PST by Alacarte (There is no knowledge that is not power)
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To: WildTurkey
Yes. Particularly that part in Gensesis 2 where God found man lonely and created the animals for his company.

The Garden of Eden, where men are men and animals are nervous.

429 posted on 02/08/2005 11:17:11 AM PST by Modernman (What is moral is what you feel good after. - Ernest Hemingway)
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To: Alacarte
Men as trees, walking.
430 posted on 02/08/2005 11:19:26 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: patriot_wes; RaceBannon
my favorite part is when they say "in the beginning there was nothing....and then it exploded!"

You may want to read this before posting such drivel:

http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmolog.htm

431 posted on 02/08/2005 11:20:04 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: Jaysun
Then I guess you erred when you made this statement:

Scripture specifically says that God created man in his image in the beginning.

432 posted on 02/08/2005 11:20:13 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: Mamzelle
Hey, hon--I'm back.

Mamzelle,
You're a true smart ass and that's what I love about you. Incidentally, this is yet another example of man's superiority over beast (animals are unable to be smart asses).
433 posted on 02/08/2005 11:21:22 AM PST by Jaysun (Nefarious deeds for hire.)
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To: Modernman
The Garden of Eden, where men are men and animals are nervous.

Animals were not eaten by Man till God commanded so AFTER the flood.

434 posted on 02/08/2005 11:21:41 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: Jaysun
I was only repeating scripture.

Which scripture?

435 posted on 02/08/2005 11:23:02 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: WildTurkey

I don't think that's the kind of nervous Modern meant.


436 posted on 02/08/2005 11:24:23 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Jaysun
re: smart asses.

A kind of mule--fertile, unfortunately, in my case. Ask Modernman about mules.

437 posted on 02/08/2005 11:27:26 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle
I don't think that's the kind of nervous Modern meant.

I have been pretty good with the humor this morning but that one went right by me! Thanks.

438 posted on 02/08/2005 11:29:44 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: RadioAstronomer

In the beginning, there was this string...?


439 posted on 02/08/2005 11:30:07 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Alacarte
Genesis also says the earth was created before the stars, which could not possibly be further from the truth.

You mean scientific truth as prescribed by man's Laws of Physics?

True.

...but neither could the Lord have walked on water or turned water into wine.

You would concede though, would you not, that there are things demonstrated in this world that cannot be explained by modern science?

440 posted on 02/08/2005 11:30:27 AM PST by houeto ("Mr. President , close our borders now!")
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To: RadioAstronomer

Read it?

Why? What did they change this time??

Darwin said his fossils were there but we didn't find them yet. Stephen Jay Gould says the fossils aren't there, that's why there are gaps in the fossil record. If I told you I did my homework, but the dog ate it, would you believe me? Once again, the proof, is that there is no proof. Evolution is such a fun theory, you can think up any zany idea from microbes on meteors to aliens with a mission to populate the universe and 'science' will back you up; but what happens if you say, " In the beginning, God......


441 posted on 02/08/2005 11:30:40 AM PST by RaceBannon ((Prov 28:1 KJV) The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.)
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To: Mamzelle
A kind of mule--fertile, unfortunately, in my case. Ask Modernman about mules.

Pregnant Mule

442 posted on 02/08/2005 11:31:35 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: houeto
You would concede though, would you not, that there are things demonstrated in this world that cannot be explained by modern science?

Correct. We still do not know how gravity causes bodies to attract, how electrical charges repel, how mass is converted into energy as the candle burns ...

443 posted on 02/08/2005 11:33:28 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: WildTurkey

Now, show me the baby.


444 posted on 02/08/2005 11:33:33 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Ichneumon

Interesting, but you still haven't explained the origins of Ted Kennedy. He's just not natural.


445 posted on 02/08/2005 11:33:38 AM PST by colorado tanker (The People Have Spoken)
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To: sure_fine

Boy, is he ever missing!!


446 posted on 02/08/2005 11:34:24 AM PST by television is just wrong (Our sympathies are misguided with illegal aliens...)
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To: RaceBannon
Why? What did they change this time??

I would not be surprised if you hadn't even clicked the link I provided. That site does not address the theory of evolution. It addresses cosmology.

447 posted on 02/08/2005 11:35:12 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: Alacarte
After the fact predictions are not difficult. In fact, if the bible is so full of scientific predictions, why don't you tell us something scientific from the bible before science explains it for once.

The order of creation was told in the Bible thousands of years before science confirmed it.

448 posted on 02/08/2005 11:35:40 AM PST by houeto ("Mr. President , close our borders now!")
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To: Mamzelle
Now, show me the baby.

Thought you would never ask.


449 posted on 02/08/2005 11:36:20 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: colorado tanker
Interesting, but you still haven't explained the origins of Ted Kennedy. He's just not natural.

The problems with interbreeding are well documented except in Genesis.

450 posted on 02/08/2005 11:37:27 AM PST by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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