Whales, dolphins, and porpoises belong to the Order Cetacea, a group of mammals that have completely adopted an aquatic existence. They have streamlined, hairless bodies with two front flippers, no hind legs, a muscular tail for propulsion, and a blowhole at the top of the head for breathing. There are two main types: The Toothed whales (Odontocetes) include dolphins, porpoises, sperm whales, the beluga, the narwhal, and beaked whales; the toothless Baleen whales (Mysticetes) include the rorquals, right whales, and the gray whale.
Recent molecular studies have shown that whales are most closely related to modern cattle, deer, and pigs (Hoofed Mammals of the Order Artiodactyla) and may have evolved from them in the Early Eocene, about 52 million years ago. Alternatively, they may have emerged from the mesonychids, an extinct group of archaic ungulates that ranged in size from a weasel to a bear. The earliest cetacean fossils are the freshwater pakicetids, known mostly from teeth and skulls found on the Indian subcontinent. The ambu-locetids are the oldest marine whales, found in Pakistan in the Eocene, 50-45 million years ago. They had four large legs used for swimming, looked more like crocodiles than whales, and lived offshore, although they apparently swam into river estuaries to drink fresh water. Next came the protocetids, which lived in fully marine tropical and subtropical environments around the world during the Middle and Late Eocene, 48-42 million years ago.
Most important to cryptozoology are the basilosaurids, the last of the archaic whales. These emerged in the Late Eocene, about 42 million years ago, and are characterized by long, flexible vertebrae; reduced but functional hind limbs; a muscular, fluked tail; and a serpentine body that grew up to 80 feet long. Basilosaurid fossils are found in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Egypt. The type fossil, Basilosaurus ce-toides, was misidentified as a reptile in 1843 when it was first described; the genus name means "king reptile." The nineteenth-century anatomist Richard Owen later renamed it Zeu-glodon ("yoked tooth"), and it is often cited as such in some cryptozoological literature. However, the rules of nomenclature defer to the earlier name even if it's inaccurate. Because it looks remarkably like some Sea Monsters reported in modern times, a surviving basilosaurid is frequently suggested as a candidate.
Baleen whales first turned up in the Late Eocene, 40 million years ago, while toothed whales emerged in the Early Oligocene, 35 million years ago. Although the toothed whales were originally marine, some have returned to freshwater.
The largest mammal ever recorded is the Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). A female measuring 110 feet 2.5 inches was brought into the Cia Argentina de Pesca shore station in Grytviken, South Georgia, in 1909.
Of the 17 cetaceans in this section, all but 2 are toothed whales, and of these, 9 are probable dolphins. The 2 lone baleen cryptids are the Magenta Whale and the Scrag Whale. Their geographic breakdown is: Antarctic 3, Atlantic Ocean 4, Indian Ocean 2, Mediterranean 1, Pacific Ocean 6, and South America 1.
Alula Whale; Antarctic Killer Whale; Antarctic Long-Finned Whale; Dimorphic Beaked Whale; Greek Dolphin; High-Finned Sperm Whale; Iligan Dolphin; Magenta Whale; Palmyra Fish; Pink Dolphin; Rhinoceros Dolphin; Sawtooth Dolphin; ScotTs Dolphin; Scrag Whale; Senegal Doiphin; Southern Narwhal; White-Fiip-pered Beaked Whale
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