Four-legged prehistoric whale fossil found in Peru

The newly discovered early whale Peregocetus, which lived about 43 million years ago, is pictured along the rocky shore of the southeastern Pacific in this undated artistic reconstruction obtained by Reuters on April 3, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 April 2019
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Four-legged prehistoric whale fossil found in Peru

  • The new specimen, described in a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, is 42.6 million years old and provides fresh information on the evolution of cetaceans

WASHINGTON: Paleontologists have found a well-preserved fossil of a four-legged amphibious ancestor of whales, a discovery that sheds new light on the mammals’ transition from land to the ocean.
The ancestors of whales and dolphins walked on Earth about 50 million years ago in the regions that now comprise India and Pakistan.
Paleontologists have previously found partial fossils of the species in North America that were 41.2 million years old suggesting that by this time, the cetaceans had lost the ability to carry their own weight and walk the Earth.
The new specimen, described in a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, is 42.6 million years old and provides fresh information on the evolution of cetaceans.
The fossil was found about 0.6 miles (one kilometer) inland from Peru’s Pacific coast, at Playa Media Luna.
Its mandibles grazed the desert soil and during excavations, the researchers found the lower jaw, teeth, vertebrae, ribs, parts of front and back legs, and even the whale ancestor’s long fingers that were likely webbed.
Based on its anatomy, the scientists say this cetacean of about 13 feet (four meters) long could both walk and swim.
“Part of the tail’s vertebrae showed similarities with that of present-day semi-aquatic mammals like otters,” lead author Olivier Lambert of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences told AFP.
“This would therefore have been an animal that would have started to make growing use of its tail to swim, which differentiates it from older cetaceans in India and Pakistan.”
Pieces of four-legged whales were found in Egypt, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal and Western Sahara, but they were so fragmented that it was impossible to decisively conclude whether they could swim.
“This is the most complete specimen ever found for a four-legged whale outside of India and Pakistan,” said Lambert.
If the whale in Peru could swim like an otter, the researchers hypothesized that it likely crossed the Atlantic from the western coast of Africa to South America. As a result of continental drift, the distance was half that of today, around 800 miles, and the east-west current of the time would have facilitated their travel.
This finding would make less likely another hypothesis according to which whales reached North America via Greenland.
The Pisco Basin, off Peru’s southern coast, likely holds numerous fossils, given its excellent conditions for preservation.
“We have work for at least the next 50 years,” said Lambert, the paleontologist.


Bum move: Kardashian ‘kimono’ shapewear sparks Japan debate

Updated 26 June 2019
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Bum move: Kardashian ‘kimono’ shapewear sparks Japan debate

  • The pop culture icon unveiled the new ‘Kimono’ line on Twitter
  • But the announcement garnered mixed reaction both at home and in Japan

TOKYO: American television star Kim Kardashian has sparked debate in Japan by naming her new line of shapewear “Kimono,” prompting some to accuse her of disrespecting the traditional outfit.
The pop culture icon unveiled the new “Kimono” line on Twitter, revealing she had been working for a year on the underwear to offer “solutions for women that actually work.”
But the announcement garnered mixed reaction both at home and in Japan, with some offering their criticism on Twitter using the hashtag #KimOhNo.
“She’s been to Japan many times. I’m shocked. She has no respect,” tweeted one user in Japanese.
“I like Kim Kardashian, but please pick a name other than kimono if it’s underwear,” wrote another.
“The Japanese government should file a protest against Kardashian,” wrote a third.
Kimono literally means “something to wear,” while Kardashian’s use of it appeared to be a play on her first name. The new line’s website offered no explanation, and Kardashian has yet to respond to her online detractors.
And not everyone was opposed to the name, with some users arguing it could offer a chance to promote a traditional outfit that is declining in popularity even in Japan.
Once a standard of the Japanese wardrobe, the kimono is now often reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and coming-of-age ceremonies, and is mostly worn by women.
And while the elaborate outfits might appear to have little in common with the snug garb being offered by Kardashian, kimonos are not only often hugely expensive but known for being hard to wear.
Women frequently hire experts to dress them in kimono because the outfit requires seemingly endless nipping, tucking and strapping.