Posted on March 21st, 2012 at 1:19 PM by Alaskankare

Recently, I was researching websites at zooniverse.com, a wonderful place where anyone can help research groups sort through their data. One of the research sites was attempting to sort through all their killer whale song data to match family groups together. You see, Orca whales have whale songs, and utilize the same complex note to announce their family group, which allows other family members to find them. Listening to the whale songs was slightly tedious because they tended to be very pitchy. After going through several selections, my daughter and I realized that they resemble howling calls by wolves, coyotes, and dogs. Once we came to that realization, and knowing that whales came from land mammals that returned to the sea, I theorized if whales and wolves are actually related. You see killer whales have very distinctive markings, which are similar to wolves. Both have light markings on the underbelly, light markings around the eyes, a greyish patch on their backs, and hunt and live with a pack mentality.

After some quick research on Wikipedia (gotta love this resource of information) I was surprised to find that indeed, killer whales and wolves did have a common ancestor. This graphic from Wikipedia shows that the group Canis (dogs, wolves) and Cetaceamorpha (whales) evolved from the common ancestor of Erinaceus. How amazing is that? Other animals that share this ancestor are zebras, hippos, cats, and more.

I love that a simple theory discovered with my daughter could determine this evolution to be true.

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