Basilosaurus was an archaic whale that lived during the late eocene 40–35 million years ago. A streamlined body and paddle-like forelimbs show it was a fast swimmer. Saw-edged teeth suggest it hunted. Small hind limbs reveal that it descended from land-dwellers.
Scientists who discovered Basilosaurus first thought it was a reptile and named it “regal lizard.” Today we know it was a mammal.

This whale fossil came from Scott County, Mississippi. It is one of many partial Basilosaurus skeletons that have been found in Mississippi and Alabama.


  • Title: Archaeocete Whale Archaeocete Whale
  • Location: Choctaw County, Alabama, United States, North America
  • Type: Fossil
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • USNM Catalog Number(s): V4675, V4675
  • Scientific Name: <i>Basilosaurus cetoides</i>, <i>Basilosaurus cetoides</i>
  • Photo Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
  • Geologic Age: Cenozoic - Paleogene – Eocene
  • Field: Paleobiology
  • Date Collected: 1894-11-08

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