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One of the most extraordinary creatures which the mutations of the globe have blotted out of existence.

— Herman Melville, Moby Dick

This ancient cetacean traveled the oceans some 35 million years ago, ranging from what is today the United States, to Egypt, to Pakistan. When a nearly complete fossilized skeleton was discovered in the early 1830s and sent to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, it was first mistaken for an enormous aquatic reptile. But its teeth were wrong. And in 1839, British anatomist Richard Owen confirmed its status as a whale.