Whales have five FINGERS hidden in their fins, a trait of their ancient ancestors

Early ancestors of whales walked on land when they roamed the Earth 50 million years ago, and new photos show that today’s animals still have a trait of the ancient creatures — finger-like appendages.

Beneath the interdigital flesh of a whale’s fins are five “fingers” or the pentadactyl limb, which is found in humans, amphibians and a range of other animals, and shows a shared common ancestor.

dr. Mark D Scherz, assistant professor of vertebrate zoology and curator of herpetology at the Statens Naturhistoriske Museum in Denmark, earlier this month dissected a whale and pulled the flesh away to reveal its bizarre appendages.

Speak with IFL ScienceScherz said: ‘Flippers have evolved repeatedly in different genera of mammals and reptiles, each time in a different way; the fundamental structure is the pentadactyl limb, but the specific structure [of the limbs] very different.’

Scroll down for video

Beneath the interdigital flesh of a whale’s fins are five “fingers” or the pentadactyl limb, which is found in humans, amphibians and a range of other animals, and shows a shared common ancestor.

Whales are descendants of a stocky fox-sized animal with an elongated body and tail, which experts have compared to that of a mini-deer.

This ancient creature roamed the land, hunting for food in the water until it went completely into the water.

And although whales traded their weapons for fins, there is still evidence that they once existed.

Scherz also shared an image of what lies beneath the red, pink-colored flesh — five bony fingers.

An image of what is under the red, pink colored flesh - five bony fingers.

An image of what is under the red, pink colored flesh – five bony fingers.

dr.  Mark D Scherz, assistant professor of vertebrate zoology and curator of herpetology at the Statens Naturhistoriske Museum in Denmark, earlier this month dissected a whale (trunk) and pulled off the flesh to reveal its bizarre appendages.

dr. Mark D Scherz, assistant professor of vertebrate zoology and curator of herpetology at the Statens Naturhistoriske Museum in Denmark, earlier this month dissected a whale (trunk) and pulled off the flesh to reveal its bizarre appendages.

‘I have to give credit to Mikkel Høegh Post, who prepared the pinball in this way! Great to see him and the other researchers working on this animal,” Scherz shared Twitter.

‘Now this is that pinball! Mikkel carefully tied each bone to a grid to preserve the precise arrangement through maceration. Look at that articular cartilage!’

The first evidence suggesting that whales evolved from a terrestrial animal was discovered in 2008 in Pakistan.

Hans Thewissen, of Northeast Ohio Medical University and involved in the discovery, and his team determined that the creature, named Indohyus, waded through the water like a hippo in search of food and as a means of evading predators, ultimately leading them to moved from land to a fully aquatic lifestyle.

The largest animal on Earth swims through the depths of the oceans, but 50 million years ago, whales walked on all fours on the surface.  A professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University reveals the huge creatures are descendants of an ancient 'little deer' known as Indohyus

The largest animal on Earth swims through the depths of the oceans, but 50 million years ago, whales walked on all fours on the surface. A professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University reveals the huge creatures are descendants of an ancient ‘little deer’ known as Indohyus

After a deeper analysis, researchers discovered similarities between the skull and ears of both the Indohyus and whales.

They determined that the bones of Indohyus had a thick outer layer, much thicker than other mammals of this size.

This trait is often seen in mammals that are slow wading birds, such as the present-day hippopotamus.

More recent evidence was unearthed in Egypt last month: fossils of a previously unknown four-legged whale species that lived 43 million years.

More recent evidence was unearthed in Egypt last month: fossils of a previously unknown four-legged whale species that lived 43 million years.

The new whale, named Phiomicetus anubis, was about 10 feet long with a body weight of about 1,300 pounds and was probably an apex predator as it roamed the ancient seas

The new whale, named Phiomicetus anubis, was about 10 feet long with a body weight of about 1,300 pounds and was probably an apex predator as it roamed the ancient seas

Another clue as to how Indohyus lived was found in the bones of his limbs, which were thicker and heavy in the same way as hippos.

This suggests that the animal was a wading bird, with heavy bones to prevent it from floating.

Based on this evidence, Thewissen suggested that whales’ ancestors took to the water as a predator avoidance mechanism and only developed specific aquatic feeding behavior much later.

More recent evidence was unearthed in Egypt last month: fossils of a previously unknown four-legged whale species that lived 43 million years.

The new whale, named Phiomicetus anubis, was about 10 feet long with a body weight of about 1,300 pounds and was likely an apex predator as it roamed the ancient seas.

The whale’s genus name honors the Fayum Depression, and the species name refers to Anubis, the ancient Egyptian dog-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife.

.