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Creation 36(4):34–35, October 2014

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Whale evolution fraud

Another evolutionary icon bites the dust


First published: 12 April 2014 (GMT+10)
Figure 1. An AMNH (New York) display in 2012, still showing the false reconstruction of Pakicetus, with ‘blowhole’ (red arrow) and low position of the eye (white), whereas the 2001-published skull clearly showed that the nostrils were in the tip of the nose and the eyes were on the top of the head, not at all like a toothed whale. Photo from 3rd Edition, Evolution: The Grand Experiment, ©Dr. Carl Werner, 2014.
Updated from Creation 36(4):34–35; October 2014

Museums and textbooks today claim that whale fossils provide the clearest proof of evolution—they have mostly dropped horse evolution because that story no longer withstands scrutiny.1 Three key fossils in the whale story are Pakicetus, Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus, which are claimed to link a land animal with very long and slender whales known as basilosaurids.2 Without these three the story collapses.

Dr Carl Werner, author of Evolution: the Grand Experiment, has checked out the claims, interviewing the researchers and others. He found that none of the fossils holds up as transitional to whales. His findings, published in a major 25-page Appendix to the new 2014 edition of his book, utterly destroy the whale evolution story. Here are some highlights.


We have already pointed out the extreme story-telling that occurred with Pakicetus, involving Dr Philip Gingerich.3 An incomplete skull fossil was imagined to be that of a whale-like creature, displayed as an artist’s impression on the cover of the prestigious journal, Science, in 1983. Some years later the rest of Pakicetus was found, published in 2001, and it proved to be nothing like a whale. Contrary to what Dr Gingerich had imagined, there was no blowhole, there were no flippers (only hooves), and there was no whale neck (just a neck typical for land mammals). Even so, Dr Werner reveals that the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Natural History Museum in London have not stopped using the falsely-reconstructed skull that shows a blowhole (see figure 1).

In a National Geographic documentary in 2009, Dr Gingerich still claimed that Pakicetus should be classed with whales, based on its ear-bone. However, the ear-bone is not like a whale, which has a finger-like projection (sigmoid process), but is plate-like, like the fossils of land animals known as artiodactyls.

Figure 2. A painting of Ambulocetus at the Smithsonian, showing fake blowhole and tiny ears. There is no fossil evidence for either claimed whale-like feature. Photo from 3rd Edition, Evolution: The Grand Experiment, ©Dr. Carl Werner, 2014.


Figure 3. Comparison of the cheek bones of a cetacean (a dolphin, which is in the whale family), Ambulocetus, and a horse. Dr Thewissen claimed that the cheek-bone of Ambulocetus is thin and whale-like, but this is not the case at all (from Evolution the Grand Experiment,third edition, 2014), © Dr. Carl Werner

The ‘walking whale’ is portrayed as an intermediate between Pakicetus and Rodhocetus. Dr Hans Thewissen, former student of Dr Gingerich, said that there were eight characteristics that showed that Ambulocetus was a whale ancestor. We have also reported on Ambulocetus (figure 2),4 but Dr Werner recorded on video Dr Thewissen admitting that a key evidence of whale ancestry, the sigmoid process of the ear-bone apparatus (again), was actually nothing like a whale ear bone. Also, the cheek bone, which Thewissen claimed is thin like a whale cheek bone, is actually not thin at all; a horse, for example, has a much thinner cheekbone than Ambulocetus (see figure 3).

Furthermore, Dr Thewissen’s lab has supplied models of Ambulocetus to various museums that show a blowhole in the snout of the skull, but there is no fossil evidence of a blowhole. Dr Werner says, “All eight characters he reported as whale features are disturbingly non-whale features.”


Rodhocetus was claimed to be an aquatic animal that was developing front flippers and a whale-like tail with flukes (horizontal fins)—i.e. supposedly well on the way to becoming a whale. However, when Dr Werner pointed out to the paleontologist who discovered Rodhocetus, Dr Gingerich, that there was no fossil skeletal evidence for a tail or flippers, Dr Gingerich admitted that this was so. He also admitted that he now thought that the creature had neither of these critical whale features. We provided some of this information in Creation magazine in 2011.5 However, the tail and flippers are still displayed in many articles, and I expect that, like Haeckel’s artistic embryos,6 will be for many years to come.

Without these three supposed transitional creatures, the story of whale evolution collapses. Another evolutionary icon bites the dust!

Dr Philip Gingerich, discoverer of Rodhocetus, admits that the tail fluke and flippers shown on museum reconstructions of Rodhocetus are incorrect, that further fossil discoveries show that it did not have such features.

The ‘whaleness’ of Ambulocetus is largely based on the claim that the ear-bone called the tympanic is like a whale’s. Dr Hans Thewissen admits that this is questionable.

Dr Hans Thewissen admits that the fossils of Ambulocetus do not include the part of the skull with a blowhole, although museums show Ambulocetus with a blowhole. That is, it is imaginary.

Dr Werner provides many more details in a major new appendix to the third edition of the informative and beautifully-illustrated book Evolution: the Grand Experiment. The companion DVD presents many of these explosive admissions by the paleontologists themselves.

References and notes

  1. Sarfati, J., The non-evolution of the horse, Creation 21(3):28–31, 1999; creation.com/horse. Return to text
  2. And according to evolutionary vertebrate paleontologist Barbara Stahl, a basilosaurid “could not possibly have been the ancestor of modern whales.” Stahl, B.J., Vertebrate History: Problems in Evolution,p. 489, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1974. Return to text
  3. Williams, A. and Sarfati, J., Not at all like a whale, Creation 27(2):20–22, 2005; creation.com/pakicetus. Return to text
  4. Batten, D., A whale of a tale (last updated May 2012); creation.com/ambulo. Return to text
  5. Batten, D., Rodhocetus and other stories of whale evolution, Creation 33(3):54–55, 2011; creation.com/rodhocetus. Return to text
  6. Van Niekerk, E., Ernst Haeckel, fraud is proven, Journal of Creation 25(3):89–95, 2011; creation.com/haeckel-fraud. Return to text