Pygmy whale is the last remnant of an extinct ancient species

12/19/2012 | LiveScience.com

The pygmy right whale -- a small whale species whose frown-shaped mouth sets it apart from other living species -- is the descendant of an otherwise extinct line of ancient whales, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. "The living pygmy right whale is ... almost like a living fossil," said New Zealand paleontologist Felix Marx. Studying the whale's skull, Marx and other scientists found that it closely resembled those of cetotheres, an ancient whale family believed to have originated 15 million years ago and gone extinct about 2 million years ago.

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