30-million-year-old whale provides insight into how modern whales began filter feeding

Scientists have discovered a 30-million-year-old whale that used its teeth to both bite and catch prey, and filter seawater for food. This ancestor of the modern baleen whale gives us new information on how cetaceans evolved, showing that ancient whales were filter feeders even before developing the filtering structures modern whales use today.

Modern baleen whales — like the blue whale or the humpback whale — catch their food by taking in vast quantities of water into their mouths, and expelling the water through keratin sieves called baleen. The baleen traps small creatures such as fish or plankton. Scientists have long been trying to understand when the baleen structure evolved, since ancient whale ancestors don’t have it.

This new…

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