Life as We Know It
Wolves, hibernating animals, spitting cobras and more
- By Joseph Caputo, T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Abigail Tucker and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, April 2009
(John Klausmeyer, University of Michigan Museums of Natural History)
Newly analyzed 47.5-million-year-old fossils from Pakistan are yielding fresh insights into the early ancestors of modern whales. Maiacetus inuus was a land animal highly adapted to life in the sea. One fossil encased a fetus positioned for a head-first delivery, which is typical of a land mammal and suggests the species gave birth onshore. But it probably spent most of its time in the water: its big teeth were suited for catching fish and its flipper-like feet couldn't have been great for walking.
"Molecular and Evolutionary History of Melanism in North American Gray Wolves," Tovi M. Anderson et al., Science, February 5, 2009.
"New Protocetid Whale from the Middle Eocene of Pakistan: Birth on Land, Precocial Development, and Sexual Dimorphism," Philip D. Gingerich et al., PLoS ONE, February 2009.
"Contribution of Fish to the Marine Inorganic Carbon Cycle," R. W. Wilson et al., Science, January 16, 2009.
"Functional Bases of the Spatial Dispersal of Venom during Cobra 'Spitting'," Bruce A. Young et al., Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, January/February 2009.
"Lower Extinction Risk in Sleep-or-Hide Mammals," Lee Hsiang Liow et al., American Naturalist, February 2009.