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The Dolphin With Leftover Legs 441

Posted by Zonk
from the pass-me-the-speech-center-of-the-brain dept.
ectotherm writes "Japanese scientists have captured a dolphin with vestigial legs. Evidence, it would seem, of a land-dwelling past and observable evolution." From the article: "Fishermen captured the four-finned dolphin alive off the coast of Wakayama prefecture (state) in western Japan on Oct. 28, and alerted the nearby Taiji Whaling Museum, according to museum director Katsuki Hayashi. Fossil remains show dolphins and whales were four-footed land animals about 50 million years ago and share the same common ancestor as hippos and deer. Scientists believe they later transitioned to an aquatic lifestyle and their hind limbs disappeared. Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth."
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The Dolphin With Leftover Legs

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  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @05:30AM (#16723235)
    On this article. You can't. You can be funny or informative. Let the challenge begin NOW...
    • by strider44 (650833)
      Easy. Just make a comment on the nature of evolution and how strange it is to think that dolphins, whales, hippos and deer share the same ancestor and you've won.
    • It should read: Scientists Capture Inbred Dolphin

      So there you go smartass, insightful and funny.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      When biologists uncover a squeleton from an unknown extinct species, the first question they ask themselves is : Is this a new species or a deformed member of a known species .Deformations can be caused by illness, by foetus development abnormality, by ponctual mutation.

      How can they be sure this is not such a case ? This dolphin only have an extra pair of fins, couldn't this be an extreme case of conjointed twins ?

      If there would be less debate about evolution in the US, I believe Fox News would have re
      • by Rob Carr (780861)
        I think you offer up a good point. Isn't the flipper supposed to be a merged pair of legs embyologically? If so, then why is there a flipper as well? This sounds more like a HOX gene activation that shouldn't have been, or (as you suggest) incomplete twinning.
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        s this a new species or a deformed member of a known species .Deformations can be caused by illness, by foetus development abnormality, by ponctual mutation. How can they be sure this is not such a case ? This dolphin only have an extra pair of fins, couldn't this be an extreme case of conjointed twins

        They don't. It's just been discovered. It's only journalistic speculation. But looking at the photo, the extra fins look to be in a "natural" place, not a random growth. Thus the speculation it's an old f

  • In thier report, the finding was as exciting as finding a chicken with four drumsticks!
  • The dolphins are growing new limbs they'll need to construct their spaceships to get off the earth.
  • by kooky45 (785515) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @05:40AM (#16723265)
    The dolphins need hind legs to roundhouse the sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads.
  • So can we look forward to Super Dolphin fighting underwater crime? Or is it a member of the Brother of Evil Mutant Dolphins, led by the shape-shifting Fishtique?
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Sunday November 05, 2006 @05:47AM (#16723303) Journal
    Fishermen captured the four-finned dolphin alive off the coast of Wakayama prefecture (state) in western Japan on Oct. 28, and alerted the nearby Taiji Whaling Museum, according to museum director Katsuki Hayashi.

    Anyone considered that dolphins are growing hind limbs so they can go ashore to capture a few Japanese to take back to their Hominid Museum?
    • I really like the idea of dolphins growing new legs and coming ashore. What if they're really funny, or maybe they're really bad drunks? Now you won't be able to go into the mosh pit, 'cause some 800 pound drunk dolphin is there and he's tearing up the place.
    • [visitor] Knock Knock...
      [you] Who's there?
      [visitor] Pizza Delivery
      [you] I didn't order any pizza.
      [visitor] umm....Avon
      [you--while opening the door]. I didn't order any....AHHHAAGG
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      "dolphins are growing hind limbs so they can go ashore to capture a few Japanese"

      So they're working for the North Koreans?
  • Far cry from legs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eclectro (227083) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @05:49AM (#16723313)
    I read the article, and those aren't legs, they're fins.

    I will only believe that a dolphin has legs when it walks up to me and shakes my hand.
    • Amid a bunch of other stuff, talkorigins has a nice photgraph [talkorigins.org] of bones from the hindleg of a humpback whale, specifically a femur, tibia, tarsus, and metatarsal. This dolphin's rear fins will be similarly composed, and not at all like fish fins in skeletal structure. It'll be pretty cool to see how it compares to other known cetacean rear legs from both modern examples and the fossil record once they X-ray the fins.
    • Fins = Legs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SydShamino (547793)
      I think you need to read the aptly-timed November 2006 National Geographic article "A Fin Is a Limb Is a Wing: How Evolution Fashioned Its Masterworks". It describes how the same genes (Hox genes, if I skimmed the article correctly) shared among many otherwise very differennt creatures produce species-specific results. For example, the same genes create fins in a fish, wings in a chicken, and limbs in a human (insert graphic, page 115), or control the length (or lack of) neck in a mouse, goose, or python
  • ...Dolphins with opposable thumbs? wait...erm, we're screwed!
    • Who needs opposable thumbs when you have prehensile genitalia?
    • by K8Fan (37875)

      As foretold in the Onion [theonion.com]

      Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs

      HONOLULU-In an announcement with grave implications for the primacy of the species of man, marine biologists at the Hawaii Oceanographic Institute reported Monday that dolphins, or family Delphinidae, have evolved opposable thumbs on their pectoral fins.

      "I believe I speak for the entire human race when I say, 'Holy fuck,'" said Oceanographic Institute director Dr. James Aoki, noting that the dolphin has a cranial capacity 40 percent greater t

  • And then... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aqua OS X (458522) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @06:43AM (#16723511)
    ... the Japanese killed the rare ocean dwelling animal in order to sell four flipper dolphin medicine and magical flipper medallions to the rich.
    • ... the Japanese killed the rare ocean dwelling animal in order to sell four flipper dolphin medicine and magical flipper medallions to the rich.

      I do believe you're confusing the chinese with the japanese.

      The Japanese made a mechanical exoskeleton for the dolphin and equipped it with a giant gun. That'll teach Godzilla not to mess with France.
      • by aussie_a (778472)
        Nope, I'm pretty sure it's the Japanese that like to kill aquatic animals. Especially in the southern hemisphere. And especially if they're endangered.
  • by Wills (242929) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @06:45AM (#16723519)
    Taiji, Japan, is the site of the annual ritual dolphin massacre [earthisland.org] in which fishermen drive pods of dolphins into shallow coves and stab them with spears. You should see it. It is quite a sight. The sea water turns red with blood, and the air is filled with the extraordinary sounds of screaming dolphins (they literally seem to scream).
  • by jemptymethod (1023003) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @06:46AM (#16723523)
    that would be de-feeting the porpoise
  • I read about vestigial limbs on aquatic mammals in the Wiki about a month ago - where a throwback displays fingers/toes rather than properly formed flippers.

    From what's written there, this is well understood and well recognized.

    I've just had a go at finding the article again, but you know what it's like in the wiki, if you can't remember the article title, you're going to have trouble finding it again :-/
  • And not one single mention of intelligent design?
    • Well, technically ID doesn't preclude common descent or vestigial organs (or limbs). ID doesn't preclude much, because it doesn't assert much, other than pointing at something or other and saying "evolution doesn't explain that." Behe himself believes in common descent, though not many of the ID advocates, many (most?) of whom are closet Creationsists, think about that much. The article would rankle Creationists, but they're already rankled by just about everything since Copernicus, so I don't see the bi
  • At least The Simpsons can still boast some scientific merit:

    Night of the Dolphin [wikipedia.org]
  • Since we have a pretty clear fossil evidence that mammals evolved on land and that the earliest mammals had legs, we can conclude the ancestors of dolphins and whales had legs. Physical evidence has been shown in rear vestigal legs, found in various stages of development (or whatever the antonymn of development is) in the fossil record of ancient whales.
  • The line in the summary, "Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth.", isn't present in the article.

    Also from the article:

    [...Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of back legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land. ...]

    How exactly could this be evidence of back legs? The article is pretty light on d
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      It seems more likely that an extra set of fins would be moving dolphin evolution forward.

            Becoming a better fit for its role is what powers evolution and moves it "forward". Mutations don't have to be "forward" however. Most disease is the result of mutations. This is an example of a mutation, not of evolution - therefore this anomaly doesn't move anything "forward".
  • This is *one* 4-finned dolphin? Why isn't this just one of those random genetic mutations everyone is always talking about? Why does it have to be the start/end of an evolutionary path? The interesting question is, did this dolphin pro-create, and if so, did its offspring have 4 fins?
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @08:12AM (#16723853)
    Close shot of the four legged dolphin can be seen here [pipex.com].
  • Some scientists say there may be no fish left in the oceans by 2050, and we all know that dolphins descend from a land species. We also know that dolphins are smart. I wouldn't be surprised if dolphins decided to come back on land to avoid an ocean without food (fish)!
  • Is it just me or did Fox News sensor the leg by blurring it out?????

    That isn't the water..
  • OK, first of all, they didn't find legs. They found fins. The dolphin has two extra seemingly useless fins toward it's rear, in the same approximate location it would have legs when it walked on land.

    So, freak mutation causing bringing up of ancient traits encoded in dolphin DNA? Or maybe just freak mutation in general?

    I mean, we've all seen the pictures of people born without legs and arms. Are you trying to tell me this is a bringing up of DNA from when we were "ball mammals", who rolled around the earth?
  • On the right between the bottom fin and the diver there is a grey spot that looks like it has been deliberately blurred. Are they hiding the fricken laser they just removed from its head? Maybe they've figured out that a dolphin + extra fins + laser is a more formidable weapon than a shark + laser?

    Or maybe it's just that i'm tired and it's a really low res picture.
  • Four Finned Dolphin
  • Given we have one example of a mutant dolphin:

    An experimentalist, theorist and a mathematician are riding the TGV, bound for CERN. The train passes a field with a black sheep in it. "All sheep are black", declares the experimentalist. "No," states the theorist, "all we can say is there's at least one black sheep." "You're both wrong," declares the mathematician. "There exists at least one sheep, with at least one side black."
  • Or was Mummy dolphin swimming just a bit too close to a nuclear power plant's waste pipe?
  • Does anyone else find it ironic that *Fox* is running this story and claiming that this dolphin supports evolution?
  • The dolphins have finally had enough and want their say on Slashdot!. So they're growing legs so they can walk into the cybercafes.
  • by icepick72 (834363) on Sunday November 05, 2006 @01:21PM (#16726141)
    a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of back legs

    Or the extra set of fins could simply mean dolphins had an extra set of fins! What idiot has to turn everything into legs? Next they'll find a rock with protrusions and there will be the proof that rocks once walked the earth.

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