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Whale ancestor could be the ‘missing link’ between sharp-toothed hunters and filter feeders

Modern baleen whales filter feed on krill and small fish by sucking in enormous amounts of water and forcing it out through bristlelike plates hanging from their upper jaws. But their ancestors had pointed teeth to catch big prey. Now, the fossil skull of a newly discovered species of whale suggests that at some point in their evolutionary history, baleen whales had teeth that acted as sieves and as spears, The Economist reports. The new fossil suggests that filter feeding evolved while whales still had teeth, providing a link between ancient predatory whales and modern filter-feeders, paleontologists reported yesterday in Current Biology.

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