Peregocetus pacificus, 43-million-year–old walking whale?

Have they finally found the missing link?


Published: 25 April 2019 (GMT+10)
Schematic drawings of the articulated skeleton of MUSM 3580 showing the main preserved bones, in a hypothetical swimming and terrestrial posture. Stippled lines indicate reconstructed parts and missing sections of the vertebral column Nobu Tamura, Wikimedia Commons, 2008

An international team of paleontologists led by Dr Olivier Lambert, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, has discovered a new alleged ‘walking whale’.1 This creature was Peregocetus pacificus, 4 m (13 ft) long, found in Playa Media Luna on Peru’s southern coast, and ‘dated’ to middle Eocene, 42.6 million years (Ma).

What was found?

Like many claims of missing links, we should ask: what was the actual evidence? E.g. the original claims of Pakicetus (‘Whale from Pakistan’) as an aquatic whale ancestor were based on skull fragments only. But finding a more complete skeleton showed that it was a fast-running land mammal (see Not at all like a whale and Whale evolution fraud). This is one reason why evolutionary agitprop needs to keep claiming to have ‘found the missing link’, apparently hoping that we forget that they have said that before.

But Peregocetus was represented by a fair number of bones, as shown above. This includes the lower jaw (mandible), shoulder and hip girdle, a front and rear leg and feet, and much of the spinal column, especially in the tail (caudal) region.

But it was missing a lot of crucial information as well: the skull for example, so we have no idea what its ear was like, and this is crucial for identifying putative whale ancestors. And while its tail vertebrae showed widening (“expanded transverse processes”), so it could have helped with propulsion in water, it was more like “those of beavers and otters”. There was no evidence for tail flukes as in real whales.

Evolutionary question-begging

The name Peregocetus pacificus means ‘travelling whale [that reached] the Pacific’ (the name Ambulocetus, meaning ‘walking whale’, was already taken). Nothing like putting the meaning ‘whale’ into a name to push the idea that it was some sort of whale ancestor. Never mind that almost no one looking at such a creature would ever call it a whale.

Where are the normal diagnostic criteria for cetaceans, such as powerful swimming tail, preferably with horizontal flukes, a blow hole, obligate aquatic body design, and middle and inner ears in a cavity outside the skull not inside it as with terrestrial mammals? (See also Whale evolution?) And it had a well-developed shoulder and hip girdle attached to its spinal column, with well-developed legs. Its feet even had hooves, so it could walk on land.

Wrong place and time

It was remarkable, from an evolutionary point of view, that such a fossil could be found so far away from its closest relatives. That’s why the genus name emphasized ‘travelling’. But worse for the evolutionists is the ‘dating’. That is, according to evolutionary dating, Peregocetus is millions of years younger than creatures that are clearly more whale-like, such as Rodhocetus allegedly 4 million years older, and Remingtonocetus 5 million years older and Protocetus 2 million years older (see illustrations below).

Nobu Tamura, Wikimedia Commons, 2008Remingtonocetus
Remingtonocetus harudiniensis, ’dated’ to 48 Ma, but more aquatic than Peregocetus that is ‘dated’ as 5 Ma younger.
Nobu Tamura, Wikimedia Commons, 2008Protocetus
Protocetus atavus, ‘dated’ to 45 Ma, far more aquatic than Peregocetus that is ‘dated’ as 2 Ma younger.

We see the same problem with the other most-touted evolutionary transition series, dinosaur-to-bird and fish-to-tetrapod. In the former, the definite flying bird Archaeopteryx and the beaked flying bird Confuciusornis are ‘dated’ millions of years older than the ‘feathered dinosaur’ ancestor candidates. In the latter, there are undoubted tetrapod footprints millions of years older than all the supposed intermediates, including the much-touted Tiktaalik (actually, footprints in general are often found in rocks ‘millions of years’ older than any animal that could have made them).

Talking about this problem with the proclaimed dino-to-bird series, its leading evolutionary critic, paleornithologist Dr Alan Feduccia likes to say, you can’t be older than your grandfather! His opponents in particular, and evolutionists in general, when confronted by similar problems, respond that sometimes a grandfather can outlive his grandson. This is correct, but one of the major ‘evidences’ of evolution is how the evolutionary order supposedly matches the fossil sequence. So the mismatch of claimed order of appearance with claimed phylogeny undermines the evolutionary explanation.

Furthermore, Peregocetus doesn’t seem to have ‘advanced’ beyond Ambulocetus, supposedly 6 million years older, i.e. virtual ‘evolutionary stasis’. But in the other direction, it is very different from the aquatic Dorudon and the enormous Basilosaurus, which are dated to 4 million years younger—i.e. a huge amount of change to occur by random mutation and natural selection. It’s nice that evolution is so flexible in that it can explain such vastly different rates, although we know of no difference in mutation rates or selective pressures. Also, there are problems in substituting so many mutations in such a short time, as evolutionary geneticists have realized (see the discussions about Haldane’s dilemma and the waiting time problem.


No, there are no four-legged whales. This should go without saying, by the normal meanings of words. But sadly not, with the dogma of land-mammal–to–whale evolution. This new find, Peregocetus, was certainly four-legged, and could stand and walk on land, but it was equally certainly not a whale. Furthermore, it is ‘dated’ as millions of years younger than some much more ‘whale-like’ creatures, opposite to the claimed evolutionary sequence. And there is too little time for mutations and selection to have evolved Peregocetus into something like a Basilosaurus.

A much better explanation is that God created whales fully formed, and on day 5—a day before He created land creatures, including those of the created kind comprising Peregocetus. This is one of many contradictions in the order of events between Genesis and long-age ideas.

References and notes

  1. Lambert, O. and six others, An amphibious whale from the Middle Eocene of Peru reveals early South Pacific dispersal of quadrupedal cetaceans, Current Biology, 4 April 2019 | doi:10.1016/j.cub.2019.02.050. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Richard G.
Jonathan, Brother, you've done it again! AntiGod people can use terms like cetaceans to deceive us. What an indictment for evolutionists! They use tricks like suddenly making big claims. No doubt they expect the public to swallow their lies because of their qualifications. Tricks are bad and underhand. Tricks damage the antiCreator cause. These tricks may help to deceive some people who are apparently sitting on the fence but who finally give up God.

The reason in some/many cases of people who eventually choose evolution against creation is probably because of something like wanting to marry an unsaved person but needing an excuse to do so. My opinion is that many antiCreationists get their higher qualifications by being clever enough to pass exams. We need to be wary of all antiCreationists. Clever yes, but not always true. Not all statements of scientists are scientific. Stephen Hawking wrote, “Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will make itself from nothing”! Utter nonsense. Reminds me of those academics who wrote utter nonsense and got it accepted by leading magazines! Why no worldwide outrage??

I read three books touting evolution by an Auckland University academic I know. He left my group of evangelical churches and went to a Methodist church. He says that the Hebrews naturally wrote their own primitive erroneous ideas about creation. But the world’s best seller itself claims that God wrote Genesis! Psalm 119:98–100 says we who stick to God’s word know more than our (evolutionist) enemies, the ancients, and even our teachers! Keep safe and stick to the Word of God. Let us who know God get out widely the liberating gospel based solidly and solely on the Word. God Himself will supply any necessary argument where we are unable.
Zach S.
This reeks of desperation. I think evolutionists deep down know their ‘theory’ is in free-fall and are just throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks, because even the most ill-informed layperson on the street can see that this mammal is clearly a land mammal and had little to no connection with any sea creature, much less whales. Anyway, thanks and God bless!
Dave Ross R.
A whale of a tale, to be sure—enough to make one legless!
John C.
The odd arrangement (derangement?) of the supposed Cetacean evolutionary series is reminiscent of the Horse series in earlier literature. As a young creationist, this equine progression used to bother me, but like most ‘evidence’ of evolution, it does not stand close scrutiny. The numbers of ribs and toes, and the fact that size increased, rather than decreased with supposed refinements (along with human intervention!), rendered the Horse series untenable. I would suppose the Cetacean ‘series’ will most likely undergo similar enlightenment and disfavor among evolutionists at large. Perhaps the increasing numbers of ‘progressions’ requiring props or abandonment will allow God’s light to finally dawn on at least some proponents. That is my sincere prayer.
Colin N.
Although I am a CMI supporter, I take exception to the Hawking misquote above. Hawking here referenced gravity simply as an example of a scientific law, he was asserting that a different law “such as gravity”, i.e. a law in the same sense as gravity is a law, was responsible for spontaneous creation. Whether he was referring to something in quantum physics, or to a hypothetical law which he expected to be discovered in the future, is not clear.
In view of the difficulties which Hawking had to overcome in order to communicate at all, we ought to be generous in trying to follow what he was getting at, and not take advantage where he was perhaps unable to express himself as clearly as he might have liked. Within his own frame of reference, it’s a reasonable statement. It’s only by considering what the Bible says about those who say “There is no God” that we can conclude he was speaking as a fool.
Jonathan Sarfati
We appreciate the concern by our supporter for accuracy in quotation. All the same, I don’t think that the previous correspondent misrepresented Hawking. One report from the leftist newspaper The Guardian, Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God, 1 Sep 2010:

In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had seemed to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. But in the new text, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, he said new theories showed a creator is “not necessary”.

The Grand Design, an extract of which appears in the Times today, sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton’s belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have been created out of chaos.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” he writes. “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

Anyway, I reviewed The Grand Design, and see also Is there a God? from earlier this year, a review of Hawking's posthumously published book Brief Answers to the Big Questions.
Kirk B.
I don’t understand the phrase ‘the missing link’. I thought that for a link to be a link it has to be linked to another link. For a single specimen to be THE missing link implies that only one link is missing, when actually millions of links (MOL) are missing. Right?
Jonathan Sarfati
Yes. Alternatively, whole lengths of chain are missing.
Philippus S.
Good Job Proff Jonathan Sarfati! Can we now get Dr Olivier Lambert to show us the living links just before the modern-day whale, the one they say are the ancestor of it.
Ryan M.
While I agree that it would be a leap in logic based on our current data to suggest modern baleen whales, toothed whales, and archaeocetes (e.g. Peregocetus, Pakicetus & Durodon) all came from a common ancestor, I think it would be wise to keep an open mind regarding how much designed variability exists within a created kind. It isn't unheard of for marine and land animals to be members of the same kind. Based on Dr. Jean Lightner's "Mammalian Ark Kinds" study published in Answers Research Journal, all members of the mustilid family (sea & river otters, weasels and badgers) belong to one created kind. Therefore, sea otters descended from a terrestrial ancestor that exited Noah's Ark and adapted to spend all of their lives at sea, even to the point of developing back flippers. The results from a statistical analysis by young-earth creationist biologist Todd Wood ("Exploration of Biological Character Space Surrounding Living and Fossil Whales") indicate that while modern whales and archaeocetes are distinct, all archaeocetes, from the whale-like Durodon to the wolf-like Pakicetus, may belong to the same kind. This would mean that while they didn't become true whales, some archaeocetes, like mustilids, were designed to adapt to a water-dependent lifestyle.
Don Batten
We have also pointed out the range of variation possible in a created kind, and quite a number of articles are listed at: speciation topic articles.
We respect Dr Lightner's work on the mustelids, although the adaptations here are relatively minor compared to those claimed in the whale evolution story (as you intimated).
We have serious concerns about some of the baraminological analyses that Todd Wood has published. For example, the one on Homo gautengensis. Dr Peter Line discusses this here: Homo gautengensis. Dr Line says of Dr Wood's analysis:
"In some ways the result of Wood’s analysis is so wrong it can be refuted by simple observation. Consider the similarities of the Australopithecus sediba cranium to that of the Australopithecus africanus cranium Sts 71 from Sterkfontein.[Ref.] Then ask yourself, is a technique to be trusted that finds more similarities between the Australopithecus sediba skull and a modern human skull, than between the Australopithecus sediba skull and the Australopithecus africanus skull, to the point where Australopithecus sediba is classified as human and Australopithecus africanus is classified as an extinct australopith-type ape? Something is not right."
Indeed so. Baraminological analyses depend on the quality and scope of the data inputted, so we should not blindly accept conclusions that run against common sense.
S W.
It doesn't even look vaguely like a whale?
[link deleted per feedback rules]

One would even have to question if the jaw belonged to this animal as it seems like it was disconnected from the main skeletal frame as there was no neck or skull found.
[link deleted per feedback rules]

As usual if you look at the actual discovery, you'll find that the article usually has less substance than fairy floss.
Jonathan Sarfati
Yes, links are automatically deleted, but they were not bad, e.g. One of only five complete Blue Whale Skeletons in the United States.
David B.
We should always keep in mind that evolutionists don't even need transitional fossils.

In the first place, since they view science as being the process of supplying explanations for everything through natural processes alone, some form of slow, gradual change (general and specifically biological evolution) is the ONLY "scientific" explanation for everything.

Secondly, given the first assumption, one can create an imaginary evolutionary lineage from living animals. For example, there are living bacteria, archaea, and primitive one-celled eukaryotes; then sponges and jellies; tunicates and salps; hag fish and lampreys; cartilaginous jawed fish; bony fish with bony paddles, ray-finned fish, and "lungfish"; axolotls, newts, and salamanders with fewer-to-more terrestrial adaptations; reptiles; egg-laying mammals, marsupial and placental mammals; prosimians; monkeys; apes; and humans! So of course any variations not still extant appear to be transitional. No wonder evolutionists have no problem with the dates!

The terrestrial mustelid-to-sea otter observation merely emphasizes the difference between the cases. Note also the living sea lions, seals, manatees, etc. Throw in some extinct kinds and variations of them, and voila! imaginary whale lineage.

BTW, the "hooves" on Peregocetus look more like heavy claws to me, but the evolutionists have to have connections to their imagined beginning of the transition, too.
John S.
I'm still stunned that soup-to-man evolution is believed at all by anyone, yet look at it. Amazing how people can be so blinded and still think they are so smart. Just one big comfy group of blindness shouting how science is on their side. Yeah, yeah, they'll say how we don't understand how evolution works as they use HUGE gloss-overs not including the fine details of that are needed for such changes; changes outside the scope of what can change. Their only thinking goes into how they can be deceitful in pushing their madness.

Anyway, I doubt if the evo wave will ever go away with Satan pushing it and the masses refusing to use the brain given to them by God. It's a spiritual battle and at least I'm so thankful to be on the winning team that cannot lose in the end. Speaking of the brain used in our body, what a complete awesome masterpiece out of God's many masterpieces that we admire His increadible 'art work'. What an awesome God we have. Just to be recognized by Him is...., is too much to try to put in words.

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