The strange case of the Yum Yum dog
While vacationing in Lahaina, Hawaii, my wife and I happened to see a most unusual exhibit at the Whaler's Village Museum. Among all sorts of whale exhibits stood a full-sized model of a dog within a plexiglass case. The model was equipped with an audio system which through the day emitted a pre-recorded growl followed by 'yum, yum, yum'.
I asked the lady at the counter, who had to listen to the display all day, what it was all about. She said it demonstrated how a dog-like animal was the ancestor of whales.
I asked how she knew that. She said she was told that a tooth had been found which was evidence that the dog-like creature had evolved into a whale.
'See, it's right here in the book', she said, as she pointed to an artist's full-colour rendition in a children's book on whales.
The transitional tooth intrigued my wife, so she wrote to the museum curator politely asking for more information. She received no reply.
Years ago I had the opportunity to train dolphins at a marine aquarium. It was in my best interest to learn something of the nature of the dolphins' teeth and whales' teeth, for I had some concern that they may become embedded in my fingers as I hand-fed these animals fish such as mackerel and smelt.
Not only did I learn that dolphins have small round teeth, but I also learned they have sonar which enables them to differentiate between my finger and the fish. Thankfully they preferred the latter.
While there, I also learned that the tooth structure helps differentiate dolphins from porpoises. I have swum with these beautiful animals, and in so doing inspected their teeth 'up close'. Never did I see any structure which resembled a dog's tooth. And the reverse holds for my dog's teeth.
The fabrication of a dog ancestor of the whales with a pre-recorded 'growl, growl, yum, yum, yum' voice, all from a supposed single tooth, was more than I could swallow. But then again, the gullible might be coaxed into believing that the 'yum, yum, yum' sound was only an early form of sonar!
JONATHAN JONES, M.D., F.A.C.S.,
is a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructive surgery, microvascular, and hand surgery. He is a member of the American College of Surgeons, and is Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.