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Dolphin Hind Legs - Hind Limb Bud Images, Dolphin Embryo Hindlimb in Fetus Development

Images Courtesy of Dr. J.G.M. Thewissen

Cetacean Evolution - Hind Limb Bud Images, Dolphin Embryo and Fetus Development

From: Professor J.G.M. Thewissen
To: Edward T. Babinski
Subject: dolphin hind limbs
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2006

Mr. Babinski, I thought that you might be interested in this article.

J.G.M. Thewissen


From: Edward T. Babinski

To: J.G.M. Thewissen

Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Subject: RE: dolphin hind limbs

Cc: gingeric

VERY interesting! THANKS very much for remembering to send me a copy! What a fine new article on how Cetacean embryo hind limbs develop in the womb and then disappear. Handy photos too! Now how can we get such photos shown to every creationist on earth, especially the folks at "Answers in Genesis?"

I think that perhaps the folks at Talk Origins Archive, The Panda's Thumb website/blog and also the editor of Discover magazine and his Corante blog might like to see those photos and read the article as well, since they keep up with the latest evidence there and debate creationists. Not to mention the "No Answers in Genesis" website.

Will your article soon be on your whale evolution website soon so people can read it, view the photos and link to it? It needs to be. The world needs to know, and to see!

Wikipedia features links to your whale evolution website, but I do not see a link to Gingerich's university website.

I seem to recall Wikipedia as linking to the photos of hind limbs of modern day cetaceans that are at but I no longer see the link listed.

From: J.G.M. Thewissen

To: Edward T. Babinski

Subject: Re: RE: dolphin hind limbs

Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2006

Ed, sorry, I cannot make the article available on my website, because PNAS has copyrighted it. What I can do is send you some images of embryos with hind limbs, which you are welcome to post or distribute to whomever you want to send them to as long as the caption credits me.


J.G.M. Thewissen

From: Edward T. Babinski

Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Subject: Re: RE: dolphin hind limbs

To: J.G.M. Thewissen

Great!!!!! Send photos!

Don't whale embryos also have hair that is reabsorbed later during development? I don't have any photos of that.

And Baleen whale embryos have teeth that later are reabsorbed and then baleen develops, right? Would love to have some photos of that too!

And if you hear (or rather see) any new photos of adult whales or dolphins with hind limb rudiments, please let me know! Or I guess I should stay posted to your website. The public is tremendously ignorant of such evidence. Though it's a good sign that creationists once used to cite the evolution of whales in their debates as the supreme example of something for which evolution could NEVER account. Today the example they cite the most are bats, since the fossil record remains sparse there.

From: J.G.M. Thewissen

To: Edward T. Babinski

Subject: Re: RE: dolphin hind limbs

Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2006

Ed, you are right about all your statements about cetaceans.
At this point, I only have embryos for one species, Pantropical Spotted Dolphin. Those have about 10 hairs on either side of the face as an early fetus. Baleen whales have many more (even as newborns), and I am getting fetuses for those, but don't have them yet. Yes, you are right that (some?) baleen whales also have teeth that do not erupt, I have never seen good photographs of them, but there are some drawings in old papers. That too, I hope to get good ones when I get the mysticete embryos.
Attached are a couple of figures which you may post on your website or share with others. I do want to retain the copyright to them, so please say that in the caption, and eventually will also post them on mine or publish them in print.

J.G.M. Thewissen

Images to accompany the article by J.G.M. Thewissen and co-authors on hind limb development in dolphins

Photo with Blue Background:

An embryo of a Spotted Dolphin in the fifth week of development. The hind limbs are present as small bumps (hind limb buds) near the base of the tail. The pin is approximately 1 inch long.

dolphin embryo limbs

dolphin embryo limbs

Photo with the White Background:

Four fetuses of the Spotted Dolphin. Chemicals were used to make these fetuses transparent, and then dyes stained the bones purple and the cartilage blue. The ages of these fetuses range from 1.5 to 4 month of development and the largest fetuses is 218 mm (approximately 5.5') long. Note that in all four fetuses there is a small pelvis (blue bar underneath the tail. Preparation by Dr. Sirpa Nummela.

dolphin hind limb buds

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