A new whale
July 8, 2019 10:32 PM   Subscribe

Fossil of ancient four-legged whale with hooves discovered. The giant 42.6m-year-old fossil, discovered in marine sediments along the coast of Peru, appears to have been adapted for a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Its hoofed feet and the shape of its legs suggest it would have been capable of bearing the weight of its bulky four metre long body and walking on land. Other anatomical features, including a powerful tail and webbed feet similar to an otter suggest it was also a strong swimmer.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (29 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
ambulocetus to the courtesy phone please! Spreading some love of the transitional whale fossil from my hominid loving self.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:33 PM on July 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


Uhhh...am I the only one whose glad this thing is extinct? Look at the teeth on it. Terror on the land AND the sea...
posted by Jubey at 10:35 PM on July 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


Uhhh...am I the only one whose glad this thing is extinct? Look at the teeth on it.
I would have suggested feeding it sugar lumps, only with extreme caution.
posted by rongorongo at 10:39 PM on July 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


I picture myself walking along the beach — and then this thing charges up out of the surf and bites me in half!
posted by jamjam at 11:03 PM on July 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


ancien 'water horse'?
posted by kliuless at 11:11 PM on July 8, 2019


Someone should slap some D&D stats on that cutie and call it a land whale.
posted by gryftir at 11:22 PM on July 8, 2019 [10 favorites]


Always thought it would look more like a manatee*, but 'giant otter' is neat.

* Without seeing any fossils.
posted by redrawturtle at 11:25 PM on July 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


[Scene: Interior. A New York City apartment. There is a knock at the door.]

Woman: (speaking through closed door) Yes?
Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Arlsburgerhhh?
Woman: Who?
Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Johannesburrrr?
Woman: Who is it?
Voice: [pause] Flowers.
Woman: Flowers for whom?
Voice: [long pause] Plumber, ma'am.
Woman: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever whale, aren't you?
Voice: [pause] Candygram.
Woman: Candygram, my foot! You get out of here before I call the police! You're the whale, and you know it!
Voice: Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.
Woman: A dolphin? Well...okay. [opens door]
posted by Lyme Drop at 11:39 PM on July 8, 2019 [41 favorites]


Cloven hoof. Does not chew the cud. Not kosher.
posted by otherchaz at 3:20 AM on July 9, 2019 [16 favorites]


It's like some kind of land sealion
posted by Chaffinch at 4:36 AM on July 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


it looks a bit... ottery.
posted by kalessin at 4:54 AM on July 9, 2019


ancien 'water horse'?
Hippos are social beasts, hanging out in groups called schools, bloats, pods or sieges.
Bit of a derail but this is one of the weirdest features of English to me - I don't know what you must have going on with your language to end up with four different collective nouns for an animal that most speakers haven't even seen in the flesh, and all of them have a different meaning already.
posted by each day we work at 5:08 AM on July 9, 2019 [15 favorites]


...webbed hooves? How does that even work?
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:12 AM on July 9, 2019 [10 favorites]


Now if Ahab had been chasing one of these things, I would have been enraptured by the book.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:39 AM on July 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


Bit of a derail but this is one of the weirdest features of English to me - I don't know what you must have going on with your language to end up with four different collective nouns for an animal that most speakers haven't even seen in the flesh, and all of them have a different meaning already.

I personally don’t believe many of them have ever been anything other than whimsy, except in a few special cases used in hunting, like skein of geese. Some of them are attested a long way back (to the C15th), but that just shows that people have been whimsical with language for hundreds of years.

[I have made no attempt to find out the historical truth of this opinion]
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 6:07 AM on July 9, 2019 [4 favorites]


(I personally love the whimsy we express in our weird and numerous collective nouns. I feel like it lends something to translation too - in that it indicates, in a way, how we think of the animals and other things we make collective nouns for.)
posted by kalessin at 6:23 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


Now if Ahab had been chasing one of these things, I would have been enraptured by the book.

Giddyup, Moby, away!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:51 AM on July 9, 2019 [4 favorites]


From the OP: The latest specimen proves that early whales could swim for days or possibly weeks at a time while retaining their ability to rove around on land. Photograph: A. Gennari/CellPress

I'm sure this is default text, but that made me smirk.

The OP also includes a link to the full article from Current Biology, which includes a video abstract. Very keen!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:06 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


"...collective nouns for an animal that most speakers haven't even seen."

Metafilter: a cornucopia of commenters.
posted by mule98J at 7:08 AM on July 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


My first thought was "hooves *and* webbed feet?" From the article:

“Even though it could swim in the water [with] no problem, it still had little hooves on its fingers and toes,”

Okay then. Wow.
posted by corvikate at 7:12 AM on July 9, 2019 [7 favorites]


I personally don’t believe many of them have ever been anything other than whimsy, except in a few special cases used in hunting, like skein of geese. Some of them are attested a long way back (to the C15th), but that just shows that people have been whimsical with language for hundreds of years.

[I have made no attempt to find out the historical truth of this opinion]


"The Book of Saint Albans (or Boke of Seynt Albans) is the common title of a book printed in 1486 that is a compilation of matters relating to the interests of the time of a gentleman [...] The book contains, appended, a large list of special collective nouns for animals, "Company terms", such as "gaggle of geese" and the like. Amongst these are numerous humorous collective nouns for different professions, such as a "diligence of messengers", a "melody of harpers", a "blast of hunters", "a subtlety of sergeants", "a gaggle of women", and a "superfluity of nuns". The tradition of a large number of such collective nouns which has survived into modern Standard English ultimately goes back to this book."

(When people say things like "oh actually it's not a flock of eagles it's a CONVOCATION of eagles," I always think "says fucking who?" Now I know!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:27 AM on July 9, 2019 [8 favorites]


Someone should slap some D&D stats on that cutie and call it a land whale.

I believe you're talking about a Bulette.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:49 AM on July 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: a cornucopia flange* of commenters.

*Which actual primatologists are by now seriously using! There's whimsy for you.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:12 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


As predicted in the original Deities and Demigods [pdf] as the Behemoth [page 102 pdf, page 97 original text]. NSFW depending on your workplace. Also not safe for 1980s Catholic school.

Why can't I remember anything at work, but that image popped right into my head?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:03 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


Because just as all those parents predicted, your young mind was permanently warped and sullied by that satanic game! Or, you simply found D&D way more emotionally and intellectually stimulating than work so it's more likely for those memories to stick in your mind. So you're either evil or normal.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:51 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


That'll be 5¢.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:59 PM on July 9, 2019


Cloven hoof. Does not chew the cud. Not kosher.
Point of order: we don't know it didn't chew the cud, though I guess if you're going all Talmud on me, I must admit it certainly doesn't now.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:37 PM on July 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


...I feel like if kashrut required that meat be currently chewing cud, a lot of things would be very different.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:40 PM on July 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


Webbed hooves? We have these horses in Austin.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:48 PM on July 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


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