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whales evolve from wolves, wolf whale evolution
Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash, Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash

Did seals get lost in the mix?

I think it’s pretty safe to say that when it comes to evolution, most people typically picture aquatic life forms sprouting legs then coming onto land … not the other way around.

Shockingly enough, a creature almost synonymous with the sea didn’t actually begin that way. And boy, is it a whale of a tale.

A mind-blowing video recently posted by PBS Eons reveals that whales were actually predatory land animals … the same ones that would later become wolves, specifically.

Yep, you read that right. Land animals. With arms and legs and everything.

To explain, we’ll need to go back 52 million years.



Before the warm and rainy Eocene epoch—the same time period that brought us the first horses and bats—whales looked more like the image below.

Something like a mix between a wolf and crocodile, if you ask me.

how wolves became whales, pbs eons youtube, nature vides youtube

You know it's hotter under the water.

YouTube

Yes, animals did move from the sea to the land, bringing us the first mammals. But then, over time, some mammals were like, "nah, it's that ocean life for me." Including some of these fellas.

These creatures first went into the water during the Eocene time period and eventually traded in their arms to become “sleeker and more streamlined,” while still holding onto their teeth.

By now they look less like a wolf and more like a murderous dolphin.

whale evolution, whale science

You're welcome for the nightmare fuel.

YouTube

Cut to roughly 34-36 million years ago, and the species have diversified into the two major whale groups we see today: the Odontoceti (or “toothed whales”), which include sperm whales, orcas and dolphins, and the Mysticeti, better known as baleen whales … you know, those big guys with the filter-like “teeth” (aka baleen) that eat loads and loads of plankton?

The baleen whale’s evolution in particular has scientists a bit baffled, as there is no definitive evidence as to how, when or even why they began filter feeding in the first place. In fact, the first fossil of a mysticetes appeared around 36 million years ago, but baleen doesn’t show up until later, around 11 million years ago. Even the baleen’s oldest ancestor, the Mystacadon, according to the PBS video, showed no signs of baleen when researchers discovered it in 2019.

One theory: The cooled ocean current of the Oligocene epoch brought about an abundance of nutrients—specifically plankton—which made it more advantageous to bulk feed rather than hunt for single prey. This also helps explain the giant boom in different whale species.

Still, it’s all up for debate, and likely will be for a while since ancient baleen is hard to come by. Baleen, unlike teeth, is made of keratin, the same biodegradable substance hair and nails are made out of and, therefore, doesn’t fossilize well.

As the host cleverly quipped, “It’s basically like a big mustache inside the whale's mouth.”

Bottom line: We know a lot about nature, but there is still so much to learn.

If you’d like to find out more—like how the Mystacadon ate its prey by doing a super weird thing called suction feeding—you can check out the full video here:

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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