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The Rise and Reign of the Mammals

Steve Brusatte

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Transitional fossils and the Walking Whales

Wadi al-Hitan, Arabic for The Valley of the Whales. Thousands of whale skeletons dating from 10 million years ago, to a time when whales lived in the ocean, but still had legs. We have a chain of fossil skeletons of whales, from Basilosaurus and Dorudon, showing the transformation from land mammals to fully adapted sea creatures.

12 mya a huge volcano in Idaho blanketed Mid West in ash. Ashfall Museum in Nebraska you can see 100 or so fossils still entombed in rock - rhinos, camels, deer, horses and countless birds. Fossilized seeds and plants show that the climate then would have been similar to African savannah today.

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