Chapter

Cetartiodactylan Diversity, Evolution, and Adaptations

Annalisa Berta

in Return to the Sea

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520270572
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951440 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520270572.003.0004
Cetartiodactylan Diversity, Evolution, and Adaptations

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The origin and evolutionary history of cetartiodactylans, which include cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and their extinct ungulate relatives, is explored in this chapter. The excellent whale fossil record shows how they evolved from a land mammal ancestry. Structural and functional innovations and adaptations such as skin with thick blubber, flippers and flukes and their use in swimming, vision and spy hopping, hearing and sound production (e.g., echolocation), and feeding specializations and strategies using teeth and baleen are reviewed. Also considered are cetacean social systems—pods, schools, and family units related to foraging strategies and correlated, in part, with brain evolution.

Keywords: whales; dolphins; porpoises; flukes; baleen and teeth; echolocation; brain evolution and social systems

Chapter.  10495 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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