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Clear WDC’s Amazon Wishlist for Giving Tuesday

The holiday season is knocking on our doors and Giving Tuesday is coming up soon!...
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Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...
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Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

After countless hours behind the computer, bountiful snacks, and a few stress relieving walks with...
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Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
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Stream to Sea: Orca Action Month 2022

This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising...
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Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
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Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...

Dolphin fossil holds the key to an evolutionary mystery!

Earlier this year when scientists discovered a whale graveyard in the Atacama region in Chile, we knew that we had embarked on exciting times in marine mammal science as our knowledge of extinct species and cetacean evolution was about to be radically expanded – what we didn’t realise at the time was just how rapidly that expansion would happen.

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, researchers at Waseda University in Japan have determined that contrary to popular belief, dolphins have been around for twice as long as we had originally thought. By studying a fossil of a skull fragment from a dolphin, found in a Japanese river back in 1970, they were able to date dolphin origins all the way back to the late Miocene period some 8 to 13 million years ago.

This discovery has helped dispel one of the great mysteries of dolphin evolution as until now there has always been an inconsistency between the fossil records of dolphins (to date all have shown dolphins to have originated less than 6 million years ago) and molecular studies (which suggested that they actually originated between 9 and 12 million years ago). 

This new (or more correctly, old) species of dolphin has been named Eodelphis kabatensis – and it has the honour of being the earliest yet the latest dolphin species to be described to science.

The location of the fossil find is also important as although this work is in its infancy, and more specimens need to be discovered, the presence of Eodelphis in the Pacific Ocean suggests that dolphins may have had their origins in the Pacific. Then again … perhaps there are even older dolphin fossils out there somewhere just waiting to be discovered?