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Whale Evolution Update

Press Release


Click image to enlarge.
© 2014 John Sibbick / The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Click image to enlarge.
© 2014 John Sibbick / The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Museum Models of Walking Whales
Don’t Match Fossils
Says Filmmaker Dr. Carl Werner
Widespread Problem Found at Top Museums

“Walking Whales”—
The Best Fossil Proof of Evolution, Overturned

Museums full of skulls, skeletons

and reconstructions that are false.

Skullduggery and False Skeletons at Top Museums

Dr. Hans Thewissen, Professor of Anatomy at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), is a whale evolution expert. He is famous for discovering the walking whale Ambulocetus and a nearly complete skeleton of the walking whale Pakicetus (shown in the picture above).

St. Louis Missouri April 7, 2014 (Updated August 28, 2017). Whales with four legs, walking on land, are currently considered one of the best fossil proofs of evolution but now this evidence has collapsed according to science documentary maker Dr. Carl Werner. After interviewing the two scientists who reconstructed the fossils of the three famous walking whales, Rodhocetus, Pakicetus and Ambulocetus, Dr. Werner has concluded that scientists created false models of these skeletons and skulls and passed them off to museums. The made-up models are currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, the Paris Natural History Museum, the Naturalis Museum in Leiden, Netherlands, the Museo Storia Naturale di Pisa, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the Melbourne Museum in Australia. Also, the website of the Natural History Museum of London currently displays a false skull and model, painfully reminding British scientists that they have another Piltdown in their midst.


Dr. Werner documented that blowholes were added to skeletal models of the walking whales Pakicetus and Ambulocetus even though fossil evidence of the blowhole region had not been found; a whale’s tail (fluke) was added to the walking whale Rodhocetus except no tail fossils had been found; and front fins were added to the walking whales Rodhocetus and Pakicetus when fossils of fins did not exist. According to Dr. Werner, “The two scientists who found the lion’s share of walking whale fossils essentially created the best fossil proof of evolution using plaster models and drawings and supplied these to museums and science magazines. In each case, they started with incomplete fossils of a land mammal. Whenever a fossil part was missing, they substituted a whale body part (blowholes, fins and flukes) on the skeletal model or skull that they distributed to museums. When these same scientists later found fossils negating their original interpretations, they did not recall the plaster models or drawings. Now museums are full of skulls and skeletons of ‘walking whales’ that are simply false.” Dr. Werner went on to say, “I suspect some curators are not aware of the significance of these substitutions nor are they aware of the updated fossils. Museums should now remove all of the altered skeletons, skulls and drawings since the most important parts of these ‘walking whales’ are admittedly made up. Museums will also have to delete these images from their websites as they are misleading the public.”

First Walking Whale Falters 2001

Dr. Werner’s journey started with his 2001 interview with Dr. Phil Gingerich, Curator of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Gingerich is recognized as the world’s leading authority on whale evolution. In 1994, Dr. Gingerich reported finding Rodhocetus, a purported “walking whale.” It was a four-legged animal with a whale’s tail (called a fluke) and front whale flippers.

As recounted by Dr. Werner, “I went to the museum to see the actual fossils and film the interview. When I arrived, I noticed that the fossils of the most spectacular aspect of Rodhocetus were missing. There were no fossils of the arms and tail yet they had flippers and a whale’s tail on the diagram. When I pointed this out to Dr. Gingerich in the interview, he retracted his claim that Rodhocetus had flippers or a fluke. His admission in this interview was simply stunning. My confidence was shaken.”

Second Walking Whale Wobbles

Since only two closely linked scientists had found nearly all of the “fossil” evidence of walking whales, Dr. Werner began to wonder if the other walking whales were created in this same way. In 2013, he interviewed the second scientist, Dr. Hans Thewissen, (a former student of Dr. Gingerich), who found the walking whale called Ambulocetus. Dr. Werner said, “It was like Déjà vu. I walked in for the interview and saw the skeleton lying there on the table and I was again stunned. The most spectacular part of the fossil, a partially evolved blowhole, was missing on the fossil. It appeared that Thewissen had added whale parts (in this case a blowhole) to the areas where he had no fossil evidence, just as his former professor had done.” When Dr. Werner began questioning Dr. Thewissen about the shape of the skull and missing fossil parts, Thewissen retracted the entire blowhole idea even though he had supplied the world’s top museums with skeletons having blowholes.


Dr. Thewissen had reported seven other whale characters of Ambulocetus, but all of these, according to Dr. Werner, are problematic. “Dr. Thewissen said that the cheekbone of Ambulocetus was ‘reduced’ as in modern whales and dolphins; but, in fact, the cheekbone of Ambulocetus is larger than the cheekbone of a horse. If Ambulocetus is a whale based on its cheekbones, then Mr. Ed is a whale too. It is surprising that the editors of Science did not pick up on all this when he submitted his article.”


Finally, according to Dr. Werner, Dr. Thewissen also retracted his statement that Ambulocetus had a key feature, a whale-like ear bone called a sigmoid process. For scientists, this important part cinched the idea that Ambulocetus was a whale in the first place. Dr. Werner: “The ear bone of Ambulocetus looks nothing like a whale ear bone. What he called a sigmoid process does not look like a whale sigmoid process. Surprisingly, in our interview, Dr. Thewissen changed his position and suggested that the ear bone of Ambulocetus looked more like a mole rat ear bone. You see, all eight characters he reported as whale features are disturbingly non-whale characters.”

Third Walking Whale Overturned

In the 1980s, Dr. Gingerich found a few scraps of a skull (in charcoal grey below) and imagined that the animal called Pakicetus was a missing link, an animal halfway evolved between land animals and whales.


Click image to enlarge.


Click image to enlarge.

He then created and supplied this full skull (above, right) to museums (the American Museum of Natural History in New York, The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria) and the producers of the National Geographic television special When Whales Had Legs. He also supplied this artistic drawing (below, left) of this “walking whale,” (complete with flippers, whale ears and whale neck) for the 1983 cover of Science. Later, a full skeleton of this same animal (below, right) was found in 2001. Contrary to what Dr. Gingerich had imagined, it was a land mammal. There was no blowhole; there were no flippers (only hooves); and there was no whale’s neck. Even so, the American Museum of Natural History in New York and The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria continued displaying the false “walking whale” skull with a blowhole supplied by Dr. Gingerich.


Click image to enlarge.


Click image to enlarge.

The whale ear bone feature of Pakicetus was also overturned, but this has not been communicated to the public either. In a 2009 PBS documentary, Dr. Gingerich told the audience that Pakicetus was a walking whale because it had a whale sigmoid process. However, Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo from the Carnegie Museum and Dr. Thewissen from NEOMED called the sigmoid process “questionable” and “equivocal.”


Click image to enlarge.


Click image to enlarge.

There are a host of other problems with walking whales that Dr. Werner documents in the recently released 3rd Edition of EVOLUTION: THE GRAND EXPERIMENT. Read it now!


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