Finding debunks long-held idea that teeth of prehistoric animals were shaped to allow water to sieve through them

Australian researchers have produced new evidence disputing a popular theory of whale evolution proffered by scientists from Charles Darwin onwards about the development of baleen, the hair-like strands used to filter krill out of the water and down the gullet of the largest mammals on the planet.

Using 3D modelling of a prehistoric tooth dug out of the rocks near Torquay on Victoria’s southern coastline in 2016 and comparing it to similar modelling of modern predators, a team of scientists based at Museums Victoria found that rather than being shaped as a precursor to filter-feeding, the teeth of ancestral whales were surprisingly sharp.

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