Ancient Whales Used The Same Migration Routes As The Modern Ones

Tiny creatures that would hitch a ride on the back of whales while migrating had their remains examined which revealed the migration routes of ancient whales.

These ocean giants always have fossilized barnacles that stick to their bodies and scientists used the chemical traces they contain to track their progress across the world’s oceans. Based on the results, it was suggested that the same long-distance pathways that the ancestors of the modern whales have been following for hundreds of thousands of years did not change with time.

Today most whales travel vast distances from the waters in the north that are rich in food to the warmer seas around Hawaii and Central America to breed. These migration routes have been suggested by experts to have been established long ago, but the theory could not be supported because there is not enough fossil evidence.

Ancient Whales Used The Same Migration Routes As The Modern Ones

The team behind the new study decided that instead of relying on whale bones, as a more reliable indicator they would use barnacles. “The signals we found in the fossil barnacles showed us quite clearly that ancient humpback and grey whales were undertaking journeys very similar to those that these whales make today,” said a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, Larry Taylor. “It seems like the summer breeding, and winter feeding migrations have been an integral part of the way of life of these whales for hundreds of thousands of years.”

To be more precise, for at least 270,000 years the whales would meet in a favorite meeting point it being the Pacific coast of Panama.

Some barnacles are specialized for living on the bodies of whales compared to other types that would glue their hard shells to rocks, so they are great information sources. These creatures revealed that ancient whales used the same migration routes as the modern ones.

As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.