Whales Evolved Swiftly to Become Deep Divers

Awesome news article from the CSB department at UofT highlighting a recent PNAS paper from the Chang lab, featuring the work of former PhD student Sarah Dungan!

Many cetacean species can dive to extraordinary depths on a single breath, but the evolutionary origins of deep-sea foraging in ancestral cetaceans remain unclear. In their publication, they present a resurrected ancestral cetacean visual protein (rhodopsin).

Their findings suggest that ancient whales were active at mesopelagic depths and had evolved a faster dark adaptation rate, a trait that allows diving mammals to rapidly adjust to dimming light. Their results also indicate that the ancestor of modern cetaceans was a deeper diver.

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