What do we know about the evolution of whales?

I have a vague recollection of discoveries of “not-quite-whales” in the fossil evidence. What do we now know about the evolution of the great beasts?

There was Ambulocetus, the “walking whale”.

My kids think it was pretty cool.

Obligatory wiki link. I’m not an expert, so I can’t vouch for the article’s accuracy, but it seems well-written. There was also a piece on NPR’s Science Friday about two weeks ago that discussed finding a pregnant proto-whale with the near-term fetus in position to give birth headfirst, which is apparently an indication that proto-whales gave birth on land.

In the past couple of weeks, NatGeo has had this miniseries on a few evolutionary changes, one of which was When Whales Had Legs.
Worth watching. Keep your eye out for it.
Another showed how T. Rex’s relatives became turkeys, and how bears diversified.

According to The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins, the closest living relative to the hippopotamus is the whale. The preview for last season’s run of Survivor, the one set in Gabon, had the greatest clip of hippos out in the shallows of the ocean, with crashing waves. It was extremely cool.

I totally cheated and found this through the Wikipedia link, but here’s the Stephen Jay Gould essay I remember vividly on this subject. If you’re interested in whale evolution – especially to refute creationism – this is a great piece.

All this info is fascinating! Thanks!

The discovery of these ancient critters really makes it hard to be a creationist, doesn’t it? All the supposedly non-existent transitional fossils are now being found! Ha!

We know that they built a Wall in the place that is now Jerusalem. Many humans regard it still as a sacred place.

We know that they established royalty long ago, and to this day, there is a Prince of Whales.

In the interest of fighting ignorance. The whaling wall was of course build by whalers, not whales.