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Temporal range: Middle Eocene
~42.6 Ma
Size silhouette of Peregocetus compared to a human.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Infraorder: Cetacea
Family: Protocetidae
Subfamily: Protocetinae
Genus: Peregocetus
Lambert et al., 2019
  • P. pacificus Lambert et al., 2019 (type)

Peregocetus is a genus of early whale that lived in what is now Peru during the Middle Eocene epoch.[1][2] Its fossil was uncovered in 2011 in the Yumaque Member (Paracas Formation) of the Pisco Basin at Playa Media Luna by a team consisting of members from Belgium, Peru, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.[3][4] Parts recovered include the jaw, front and hind legs, bits of spine, and tail. Olivier Lambert, a scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and lead author of the study, noted that Peregocetus "fills in a crucial [knowledge] gap" about the evolution of whales and their spread.[3]

Peregocetus is the first recorded quadrupedal whale from the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Hemisphere. The discovery reveals that protocetids reached the Pacific Ocean and attained a near circumequatorial distribution while retaining functional weight-bearing limbs.[1]


Life restoration of Peregocetus resting at a cliff

Peregocetus was essentially a four-legged whale: however, it had webbed feet with small hooves on the tips of its toes, making it more capable of moving on land than modern seals. It featured sharp teeth and a long snout which suggests it fed on fish and/or crustaceans.[3][4] From its caudal vertebrae, it has been suggested that it might have possessed a flattened tail similar to a beaver.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Lambert, Olivier; Bianucci, Giovanni; Salas-Gismondi, Rodolfo; Di Celma, Claudio; Steurbaut, Etienne; Urbina, Mario; de Muizon, Christian (4 April 2019). "An amphibious whale from the Middle Eocene of Peru reveals early South Pacific dispersal of quadrupedal cetaceans". Current Biology. 29 (8): 1352–1359.e3. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2019.02.050. hdl:11581/425570. PMID 30955933.
  2. ^ Wright, Pam (5 April 2019). "Fossilized Remains of Ancient 4-Legged Whale Discovered in Peru". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Devlin, Hannah (4 April 2019). "Fossil of ancient four-legged whale with hooves discovered". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Unknown Species of Ancient Four-Legged Whale Uncovered in Peru". Gizmodo. 4 April 2019.