43 MILLION YEAR OLD FOSSILS SHOW US THE DOG WHALE, OR PHIOMICETUS ANUBIS
So I still love dinosaurs, which means that I kind of love a host of other ancient animals that don’t exist at all today except as fossils. It’s a humble reminder that the planet Earth has had quite a number of different iterations of life that had nothing to do with us. In fact, the majority of life’s history on our blue planet has nothing at all to do with homo sapiens. And here is another exciting example that we’re just now learning about. Their name is Phiomicetus Anubis. And with the name Anubis, you can glean at least two things right off the bat. One, this has something to do with Egypt. And another, this whale looked like a dog!
WITH POWERFUL JAWS, DID PHIOMICETUS ANUBIS HUNT ON LAND AND THE SEA?
So this “new” protocetid whale gives us some more clues of the early cetacean period. So we’re talking about roughly 43 million years ago. This particular ancient times whale is different from all others we know about so far. The Phiomicetus Anubis had a large and long temporal fossae, anteriorly placed pterygoids, elongated parietals, an unfused mandibular symphysis that terminates at the level of P3, and a relatively enlarged I3. What all this means in technical anatomic terms is that this whale looked a whole lot like a dog. But it also means it had some powerful, efficient jaws, making it a predator that could feed like a raptor, or modern day bird of prey. But we’re still talking about a whale, here!
WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE LIKE TODAY, WITH PHIOMICETUS ANUBIS ON LAND AND SEA?
But there’s more to be excited about with this amazing creature. It weighed roughly 600kg and was about 10 feet long! And despite that large mass and size, the Phiomicetus Anubis could walk around on land and swim in whatever waters it cared to. So no, it’s not the first whale fossil specimen that could also walk on land (and possibly hunt). But it is the earliest we know about that walked and swam in what we now call the African continent. But also, it’s a whale that looked like a dog! Waaaaay before dogs ever graced the world, and only on land.