Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Earth Sciences Faculty News

Daily Mail: The 17 million-year-old whale that reveals when man first walked on two feet: Mammal’s wrong turn up river sheds light on Africa’s ancient swamplands

Originally Posted: March 17, 2015

London’s Daily Mail covered the research of SMU paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, a professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Jacobs is co-author of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Findings of the research provide the first constraint on the start of uplift of East African terrain from near sea level.
Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly identified.

Jacobs and his colleagues tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world — and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent — to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa’s mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the beaked Ziphiidae whale family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at a elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya’s harsh desert region. READ MORE

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