Researchers recently discovered that whales have “fingers” hidden inside of their flippers.
The discovery was announced by Dr. Mark D Sherz with Statens Naturhistorkiske Musem in Denmark. While dissecting a beaked whale, Scherz pulled the rubbery flesh back from the flipper and discovered the finger-like appendages.
Some believe the fingers are from earlier whales who may have walked on land millions of years ago.
The fingers discovered in the whale’s flippers are scientifically known as the “pentadactyl limb.” This trait is found in humans, amphibians, and some other animals – apparently, including whales.
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In an interview with IFL Science, Dr. Sherz explained, “Flippers have evolved repeatedly in various lineages of mammals and reptiles, each time in a different way. The fundamental structure is the pentadactyl limb, but the specific structure [of the limbs] differ very strongly.”
Dr. Sherz shared photos of the discovery on Twitter, saying:
“This is what it looks like when you remove the inter-digital flesh from a whale’s flipper. Amazing to see how well the pentadactyl limb is retained!”
I must give credit to Mikkel Høegh Post, who prepared the flipper in this manner! Awesome to see him and the other researchers working on this animal.
— Dr Mark D. Scherz (@MarkScherz) September 6, 2021
He also gave credit to a fellow researcher who helped prepare the flipper to reveal the “fingers.”
Since being shared on Twitter, the photos quickly went viral. Many shared the photos or added their thoughts.
Autopsi (Nekropsi) Memperlihatkan"Jari" Aneh Yang Bersembunyi Di Dalam Sirip Paus.
— Semesta Sains (@semestasains) September 16, 2021
I can only speak for myself, but I never would’ve guessed that under a whale flipper was essentially a hidden hand! The more you know.Whizzco