Researchers Discover Hidden ‘Fingers’ In Whale Flippers

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.

Photo: flickr/James St. John

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.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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!”

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.

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.

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