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Science

New Whale Species Unearthed In California Highway Dig 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-whale-of-a-tale dept.
sciencehabit writes "Thanks to a highway-widening project in California's Laguna Canyon, scientists have identified several new species of early toothed baleen whales. The new fossils date to 17 to 19 million years ago, or the early-mid Miocene epoch, making them the youngest known toothed whales. Three of the fossils belong to the genus Morawanocetus, which is familiar to paleontologists studying whale fossils from Japan, but hadn't been seen before in California. These three, along with the fourth new species, which is of a different genus, represent the last known occurrence of aetiocetes, a family of mysticetes that coexisted with early baleen whales. Thus, they aren't ancestral to any of the living whales, but they could represent transitional steps on the way to today's whales."
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New Whale Species Unearthed In California Highway Dig

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  • by concealment (2447304) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:20AM (#42934891) Homepage Journal

    Nature: creates universe, life, billions of years of different species, creatures of every conceivable size and type, vast oceans, huge forests, nicotine, sugar and alcohol.

    Humans: internal combustion, digital computers, drone strikes and Minecraft.

    It makes me feel tiny, insignificant and sort of helpless, and to think the same of my species.

    • by blydro (2844535)
      I will say, in recent years, the human race has started to... change. Just look at Youtube comments!
    • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:56AM (#42935227) Homepage

      I think you're leaving out some of the good stuff. The moon landings and the Large Hadron Collider make me feel a bit better about what humans are able to achieve. And it's not as if we're done yet, either.

      • by jgrahn (181062)

        I think you're leaving out some of the good stuff. The moon landings and the Large Hadron Collider make me feel a bit better about what humans are able to achieve.

        IMHO Bob Marley and Shakespeare are two out of many better examples ...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Only if you assume you are not made by nature. If you hadn't had your study of evolution replaced by fundamental Christian teachings, you would also know that humans, internal combustion, digital computers, drone strikes and Minecraft would be under nature as well.

      • by Golddess (1361003) on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:25PM (#42936677)

        If you hadn't had your study of evolution replaced by fundamental Christian teachings

        Uh, no. Saying that humans have come up with internal combustion, digital computers, drone strikes, Minecraft, or anything else does not logically lead to "I believe in an Invisible Sky Daddy". On the other hand, dismissing human accomplishments as having come from "nature" does. You know, like how hand-egg players will thank their particular flavor of Invisible Sky Daddy for the skills to do what they did.

        If you want to believe in an Invisible Sky Daddy, that's fine. But when you claim that the attribution of human accomplishments and advancements to humanity equates to a belief in an Invisible Sky Daddy, while the attribution of human accomplishments and advancements to "nature" does not? I don't know what to say to that, other than it feels like you are trying to be deliberately deceptive.

    • At the pace humanity is going, we're going to surpass nature in the decades to come.

    • by operagost (62405)
      Your comment makes little sense, whether you believe human beings sprang out of nature (and thus are a subset of "Nature"), or were created by a deity.
    • by magic maverick (2615475) on Monday February 18, 2013 @03:05PM (#42937809) Homepage Journal

      Give me millions of years and I'll create all sorts of cool shit. Remember that "nature" has had aeons to do all this stuff, humans have had what, 100 000 years or less? Hardly the same time scale.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      You may think of yourself as the cupcake, but some of us have an outsized ego.

    • by stungod (137601)

      I find that I feel small in the presence of cold nature.

  • by Infiniti2000 (1720222) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:38AM (#42935041)
    I haven't RTFA or even summary of course, but I bet those stupid mammals got ridden down on the 5 like everyone else.
    • by TWX (665546)
      I can guarantee you that while the scientific community is excited, the construction community is PISSED. This is undoubtedly screwing up the highway construction plans.

      It's not uncommon for construction crews to willfully not see things of archeological and paleontological significance when working because it could cost them their jobs as the project stalls while archeology or paleontology takes place on the jobsite. The new federal courthouse in Phoenix was held up for many months because of the arec
      • I can attest to this type of scenario. As a hobbyist genealogist I've encountered records of burial grounds plowed over by highways or used as fill dirt for highways. Sometimes everyone looked the other way, sometimes the foreman stopped them halfway through when they realized what was going on.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        ... and which is why there are regulations for site surveys (at least, on this side of the Pond) and local archaeological services are (relatively) swift to respond to reports like this.

        And geologists like me, with an interest in archaeology, keep our eyes peeled.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        I can guarantee you that while the scientific community is excited, the construction community is PISSED.

        And FTFA :

        "In California, you need a paleontologist and an archaeologist on-site" during such projects, Rivin says.

        So ... either your construction company has factored these costs into it's tender, and is complying with the law, OR they haven't factored these costs in (or haven't paid insurance), so their bid is either incomplete, or incompetent. In either case, tough on the construction company.

        Which

  • by ZaMoose (24734) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:49AM (#42935147)

    Was there, or was there not, a bowl of petunias found anywhere near the whale's carcass?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not again

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is it OK?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    wtf headline. I was hoping they found a live whale under the street. Guess it'll be just another day...

  • So we know why it became extinct, it choked on the lasers.
  • There goes another one of ID's already weak arguments against evolution...

    • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:43AM (#42935717)

      Even before this find, whales are one of the most well documented transitions from one "kind" to another "kind" (as the creationist idiots like to call them).

      Not really surprising to know that hippos and cows are the whale's closest living land relatives.

      And this is totally supported by both fossil evidence and DNA evidence.

    • There goes another one of ID's already weak arguments against evolution...

      With creationists and IDiots, it's like this: You have two species. "Find us a transitional fossil," they ask you. You find it. "Great job", they say, "now you have to find two more transitional fossils."

  • New Whale Species Unearthed In California Highway Dig

    Neat!

    Wait a minute. Has anyone seen Oprah lately?

  • SEE?! BIGGER BUDGET = MORE SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGHS! CUT FUNDING AND YOU CUT SCIENCE! SCIENCE! YOU'LL REGRET THIS!

    - Transportation Advisor

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    Filler cuz caps lock is evil. yaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayadda

  • by pjt33 (739471) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:07PM (#42935945)

    The summary says

    Thus, they aren't ancestral to any of the living whales, but they could represent transitional steps on the way to today's whales.

    If they're not ancestors, in what sense do they represent transitional steps? Are the two not synonymous?

    • I am not expert, but it is possible that the current find is the ancestor of a whale that was transitional to modern day whales. So modern day whales and these current discoveries shared a common ancestor so it helps us further understand what lead to modern forms.

      Maybe imagine it as the end of twig that came off of a larger branch and modern day whales are somewhere further down the larger branch. It would help to know what came off the larger branch earlier in the process.

      • I am not expert, but it is possible that the current find is the ancestor of a whale that was transitional to modern day whales.

        Did you mean "descendant"?

  • ... found in the left lane, driving too slowly.

  • by mdragan (1166333)
    Such a new whale species, and already extinct.
  • a Nullaquan dustwhale [revolutionsf.com]? Are they harvesting Flare from its innards even as we speak? That would sell well in SoCal.
  • And here I thought I had the whole set.
  • I live in Northern California and have a geology degree. The article was informative, but it is just shy of giving the useful information from the refereed source, the lithology and formation of the Middle Miocene unit in Leguna Canyon from which the evidently considerable number of fossils comes from. I.d have to find some other source to get the geologic setting for that site.

    This is interesting for the geology of California was quite different than it is now. The San Andreas system was just being form

  • Hope we can get these whales back in the water before they dry out and die!!!

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