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Whale Anatomy and Photos of Limb Rudiments on Modern Day Whales

Whale Anatomy and Photos of Limb Rudiments on Modern Day Whales
Whale Evolution: photos of modern day whale skeletons from the display at the Milwaukee Public Museum with addtl. comments by Professor J.G.M. "Hans" Thewissen, Ph.D.


This article began thanks to this lead:
I am one of the very privileged few that I know who has extensively studied the skeletal anatomy of humpback whales. They do, in fact have hind limb rudiments. Anyone can see this if they just go to the Milwaukee Public Museum and see for themselves. They have an excellent specimen on display that has the limb rudiments in-place. Take a look at the photograph (admitedly this one does not show the limb details, but the whale is indeed on display for anyone to look at).
-- George; July 22, 2003 (sci.bio.paleontology)

Milwaukee Public Museum Whale Exibit


Thanks to the lead which George provided us with, Ed Babinski went about contacting the Milwaukee Public Museum. They graciously provided several photographs of their beautiful whale exhibit.




I do not have many photos of the whale, and the few I do have are taken from the front.


But I found this one taken during the installation of an exhibit in the mid 1980s
(it has since been moved to another exhibit area).


Maybe it will work for you.


Susan Otto
Milwaukee Public Museum
Photo Collection




Attached are the photos you requested.
We have two whale skeletons on exhibit, a Humpback and a Pilot.


Sincerely,
Nate Kraucunas
Milwaukee Public Museum


Nathan E. Kraucunas
Curator of Birds & Mammals
Vertebrate Zoology Section
Milwaukee Public Museum
800 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
414.278.2782
natek/mpm.edu


Click on photos for enlarged image


Whale Pic #1 (from the Front)

Humpback Whale Pic #1

Humpback Whale Pic #2

Humpback Whale Pic#3

Humpback Whale #4

Pilot Whale Pic #1

Pilot Whale Pic #2

Pilot Whale Pic #3


Due to varied Creation Science articles located on the web, which claim there are no photographs of these hind limbs on modern whales, it was our desire to scout out photographs which contained clear evidence of hind limb rudiments on modern day whales.


The following are excerpts of email correspondence relative to discussions on the topic:


Edward Babinski
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Subject: Whale Evolution and Hind Limb Rudiments
Subject: Are these classified as vestigial limbs, or vestigial pelvises on whales in the museum photos?


Vestigial pelvises (hipbones) in modern day whales.


I don't know whether the museum pics should be displayed as "vestigial hind limbs," Maybe the Baleen whale is a hipbone with a leg bone fused to it at an angle, but I can't tell. It could just be a pelvis with no vestigial hind limb. From the pics I've seen of whale pelvises, that's all it might be. The vestigial leg bone in Baleen whales is usually just an ovoidal bone, the pelvis reduced to an egg-shaped bone, and I don't see that in the photo. It's often overlooked according to one of those Japanese experts on vestigial whale hind limbs. And so that may be why it isn't hanging from the ceiling in the museum. But I can't prove that. All I can say is that the most you can safely say is that those whale skeletons show a vestigial pelvis.


The photos of the hind leg rudiments, which are rarer, show more, even the Right Whale dissection diagrams show more, like pelvis, femur and tibia, which only the Right Whale has.


Best, Ed




We contacted Professor Hans Thewissen, Ph.D., whom is a renowned expert on Paleontology / Whale Anatomy / Whale Origins


This is what the Professor had to say in our exchange of emails:




J. G. M. Thewissen, Ph. D.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Subject: Are these classified as vestigial limbs, or vestigial pelvises on whales in the museum photos?


For the record, all cetaceans that I am familiar with have pelvic remnants in their abdomen. Many cetaceans, especially the great whales, also have a remnant of the femur in their abdomen. I believe that humpbacks have the remnants for both pelvis and femur, but I will have to look it up to be sure (which I will do when I get your page). To say that the pelvis in the humpback is not a pelvis because it is not attached to the vertebral column is silly, we have a good series of fossils documenting that in early whale evolution, the pelvis bones detach from the vertebral column. At that point they totally look like pelves still (with obturator foramen, ilium, ischium). I attach a pdf of a paper that has a picture showing some early pelves. (BioScience: Whale Evolution, the Poster Child for MacroEvolution).


To say that a pelvic remnant does not qualify as a limb remnant because it is not limb is technically correct. Anatomists would call it the limb girdle, but that is just semantics, limbs are always attached to limb girdles. Anyway it does not even matter in your case if humpbacks have femoral remnants as well. It is also silly to say that it can't be pelvis because genital muscles attach to the bone. (*)The genital muscles attach always to the pelvis, including in humans and artiodactyls (whales' relatives). That argument would actually support the homology of the bone to the pelvis, the opposite of what AIG claims. Send me the page and we'll talk more.

Hans Thewissen




Please take notice of what the Professor stated in his above email:


( * ) The genital muscles attach always to the pelvis, including in humans and artiodactyls (whales' relatives). That argument would actually support the homology of the bone to the pelvis, the opposite of what AIG claims.


This is a simple matter of common sense, which Creation Scientists have failed to properly acknowledge in their varied attempts to refute whale evolution.


Another email of significance written by Professor Thewissen
explaining why the femur is not present on the humpback exhibit at the museum:




J. G. M. Thewissen, Ph. D.
Friday, July 25, 2003
Subject: Are these classified as vestigial limbs, or vestigial pelvises on whales in the museum photos?


I found the webpage, and the nice photo of the humpback whale. It shows the remnant of the left and right pelvis, but there is no remnant of the femur.


The best dissection of this region in the Humpback is by John Struthers, published in 1893.
Dissections by Struthers


It shows that in Humpback whales there is a pelvic remnant, similar to the one in your whale, consisting of bone. Struthers also shows that Humpbacks have a remnant of the femur, however, it consists not of bone but instead of cartilage. This is why it was lost in the humpback that the museum mounted. So, the humpback had a femur remnant, but it is not present in the mount.


I think that your label of the photograph is ok, although technically it is not hindlimb but hindlimb girdle. I think that this it is not necessary to change it, and it is just semantics. I can take silly semantics a step further. Technically, the bone that you do show should not be called the pelvis (which is a term that includes soft-tissue as well as sacrum), but instead the innominate. But that takes it to a purist level. Purist anatomical terms get in the way of a real understanding of the implications.


Hans Thewissen


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