Quick: What's the the whale's earliest-known ancestor? Wrong. It may not have been Bambi, but it was a deer about the size of a domestic cat, the Guardian reports. Fossil hunters have named the small deer-like animal that waded in lagoons and munched on vegetation Indohyus. It lived 48 million years ago, and it's thought to be the "missing link" between ancient land mammals and the likes of whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
Analysis of the near-complete skeleton—from rocks gathered 30 years ago in Kashmir—
found Indohyus had a thick and heavy coating, common among modern wading animals, and teeth similar to aquatic animals. The first whales emerged about 50 million years ago, less than 10 million years after their ancestors completely transformed from four-legged land animals to ocean dwellers. (Read more whale stories.)