Monday, May 30, 2016
Ancient Whales: Odobenocetops
Odobenocetops was a small whale with two long tusks who lived about 11-5 million years ago in what is now Peru and Chile. They look kind of like a cross between a narwhal and a walrus, (though they are not closely related to walruses, which are probably pretty distant from whales in the grand evolutionary tree.) They are related to narwhals, though--but scientists think the giant, backwards-pointing tusk may be just a coincidence--"convergent evolution"--because in Narwhals, the tusk grows from a tooth on the left side, and in odobenocetops, the main tusk grows from a tooth on the right side. Plus, their tusks grow in opposite directions.<br>
Still, it's a remarkable animal.