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Inside Nature's Giants

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/inside-natures-giants/episode-guide/series-1/episode-2
The video is only viewable in the UK.
In this episode experts dissect a 65-foot, 60-ton fin whale - second only in size to its 'cousin' the blue whale - that has died after being stranded off the coast of Ireland. It's a race against time as whale anatomist Joy Reidenberg flies in from New York before the animal's decomposition causes it to explode on the beach.

Veterinary scientist Mark Evans helps investigate why the animal died and explores its extraordinary anatomy. Using whale-size machinery, Joy and the team set to work amidst gale force winds, driving rain, blood, intestines, evil smells and freezing conditions. Meanwhile, advancing tides threaten to engulf the whale, as the team struggles to complete the operation.

Beneath the blubber, the whale's unique anatomy holds vital clues to its evolution. Using a combination of dissection and computer graphics, the programme discovers an animal whose closest living relative is the hippo.

Meanwhile, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains why the whale's ancestors may have taken to the water and the evolutionary problems that had to be overcome to transform a land-based mammal into an animal that swims among fish.

_____________________________________________________________________

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/inside-natures-giants/articles/the-whales-evolution
All our ancestors came from the sea and obviously went through great trouble to leave the sea and radically change to live on land.

Some of them, whales, sealions, penguins, turtles, went back into the sea which would seem to undo a lot of hard research and development and the need to reverse it.

Now as they went back to sea... their hind limbs gradually shrank in evolution. Not visible outside at all, but amazingly if you look inside, deep inside a whale you’ll find vestiges of hind limbs, little tiny remanants of bones which shows that their ancestors had real hind limbs that they actually used for walking.

I think it must be that something about living on land equips animals to do things which they could not have done had they not had this sort of long apprenticeship on land.

For example, they got warm blood, a slight misnomer, they got the ability to keep their temperature constant, which is extremely valuable for biochemical reasons.

Having got that then it became an advantage to do that even back in the water, and so going back into the water was a reasonable thing to do.
...
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http://www.channel4.com/programmes/inside-natures-giants/articles/the-whales-evolution

TAGGED: BIOLOGY, SCIENCE, TV


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