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AMBULOCETUS

Name Meaning

Walking Whale

Size

3 metres long

Weight

280-320 kilograms

Diet

Carnivorous - an active predator

Habitat

Freshwater sources, riverbanks and lakesides. Warm and with a good food supply.

Time

50-49 Million Years Ago - Early Eocene Epoch. Evidence is rare, so it may have lived for longer.

Evidence

Quite rare - one fairly complete specimen, and several partial skeletons have been found in Pakistan.

006

The deadly Ambulocetus, is at home in the waters of the Early Eocene Epoch



Looking for all the world like a Giant Otter crossed with a crocodile, Ambulocetus, provides scientists with the answer to how Whales evolved. This, quite bizarre creature, was over 3 metres long, and most certainly lived a semi-aquatic existence. Ambulocetus, is in fact one of the very earliest, if not the very earliest forms of Whale (Cetacean) The still land worthy legs of Ambulocetus, contribute to the beast's name, which means, 'Walking Whale'. Evidently carnivorous, this amphibious mammal, seems toPalaeontologists, to have been a powerful ambush predator. Possibly waiting for prey to drink at the body of freshwater it is occupying, Ambulocetus may have used its vice-like jaws to clamp onto helpless prey, then to be dragged underwater to be drowned. This seems more than likely, and is a tactic employed by the neighbours Ambulocetus would have had in the lakes and rivers - Crocodiles. However, they would probably flee when Ambulocetus came close, as the mammalian predator was even more powerful than them. What is particularly interesting about the diet of Ambulocetus, is that it appears to be one of the few mammals at the time that had evolved to kill large prey. Living duringthe Early Eocene Epoch, in later times, the descendants of Ambulocetus would adapt to cope with Saltwater, and grow into massive sizes, so familiar in Whales to us. Even so, Ambulocetus had evolved from the most unlikely mammals of all - rodent like mammals, which evolved into small carnivorous forms, which then opted to exploit the relatively empty niche in the water; where Giant Terror Birds could not catch them.

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