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Cetacea (Whales, Porpoises and Dolphins)

  1. R Ewan Fordyce

Published Online: 19 APR 2001

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0001574



How to Cite

Fordyce, R. E. 2001. Cetacea (Whales, Porpoises and Dolphins). eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 APR 2001

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (15 NOV 2013)


Cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are streamlined aquatic mammals that spend all their lives in water. They include the largest living animals. Because their aquatic lifestyle makes them difficult to study, we know less about cetaceans than about most other groups of mammals.


  • whale;
  • dolphin;
  • marine mammal;
  • distribution;
  • fossil;
  • adaptation;
  • artiodactyls;
  • mesonychids