Catching long, bony toes on a Brazilian beach sparks fears they belong to a foreigner

An appendage that washed ashore on a beach in Brazil this week sparked fear among a couple who said it ‘looked like E.T.’s hand’ when they found it trapped in the sand – but a biologist confirms it is of this world.

Leticia Gomez Santiago and her boyfriend Devaner Souza were walking along the coast when they stumbled upon a giant hand with long, bony fingers.

Marine biologist Eric Komen saw photos of it and said the hand belonged to a cetacean — an aquatic mammal that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Based on the decomposition, the ocean animal had been dead for about 18 months.

While the appendage seems odd, it is a feature of the first ancestors of whales that walked the Earth about 50 million years ago.

The appendage was discovered by a couple who were walking along beaches in Brazil

The couple thought it looked like ET's hand, but brought it home for further analysis

The couple thought it looked like ET’s hand, but brought it home for further analysis

Beneath the interdigital flesh of a whale or dolphin’s flippers are five “toes,” or a five-toed tip.

This is found in humans, amphibians, and a range of other animals and indicates a common ancestor.

The skeletal hand was found in Ilha Comprida, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, on November 20.

The couple filmed her and she placed her slippers next to the creepy hand with her long, bony fingers to show off her sheer size.

“It’s very big,” said Santiago. “We don’t know what animal it is, and what’s worse is that it’s an alien.”

The couple shared the discovery with locals, who joked that “it looks like ET’s hand” or “mermaid’s hand.” “

Leticia Gomez Santiago, and her boyfriend, Devanir Souza, were strolling along the shoreline when they stumbled upon it.  She put it next to her shoe to show how big it was

Leticia Gomez Santiago, and her boyfriend, Devanir Souza, were strolling along the shoreline when they stumbled upon it. She put it next to her shoe to show how big it was

A marine biologist said the hand belonged to a whale - an aquatic mammal that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises

A marine biologist said the hand belonged to a whale – an aquatic mammal that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises

Given their size, Komin said the bones probably belonged to a dolphin, especially since they are so commonly found in the area.

The biologist added that anyone who finds animal remains on a beach should notify the area’s environment agency, the Kananea Research Institute (IPEC).

IPEC spokesman Henrique Chupill, who also said the skeleton probably belonged to a cetacean, stated: ‘We always prioritize leaving bones on the beach, so it doesn’t interfere with the cycle of nutrients within the ecosystem.

Eventually, when there is some scientific interest, we collect it for studies. If they are recently dead animals, we collect them to perform autopsies and determine the cause of death.

While for some seeing the inside of the fin is startling, scientists are more familiar with the appendix.

Dr. Marc de Scherz, assistant professor of vertebrate zoology and curator of herpetology at Statens Naturhistoriske Museum in Denmark, dissected a beaked whale that washed ashore in 2021 and pulled its flesh to reveal the strange ‘hands’.

Speaking to IFL Science, Shears said: “Fins have evolved over and over in different lineages of mammals and reptiles, each time in a different way. The basic structure is a five-toed tip, but the specific structure [of the limbs] strongly differ.

Based on the decomposition, the ocean animal had been dead for about 18 months

Based on the decomposition, the ocean animal had been dead for about 18 months

While the appendage seems odd, it is a feature of the first ancestors of whales that walked the Earth about 50 million years ago.

While the appendage seems odd, it is a feature of the first ancestors of whales that walked the Earth about 50 million years ago.

Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are descendants of a stocky, fox-sized animal with an elongated body and tail that experts resemble a small deer.

This ancient creature roamed the land in search of food in the water until it became completely aquatic.

Scherz also shared a photo of what’s underneath the pinkish-red flesh — five bony fingers.

I have to give credit to Mikkel Høegh Post, who prepared the fin this way! Great to see him and the other researchers working on this animal,” Shears shared on Twitter.

This is so flapper now! Mikkel carefully attached each bone to a net so that the delicate arrangement would be preserved through soaking. Look at those articular cartilages!

The first evidence that whales evolved from land animals was discovered in Pakistan in 2008.

Hans Thewissen, with Northeast Ohio Medical University and co-discoverer, and his team identified the creature, called an Indohyus, that waded through the water like a hippopotamus in search of food and as a way to avoid predators, eventually leading them to switch from land to an all-aquatic lifestyle.

After a deeper analysis, the researchers revealed similarities between the skull and ears of Hindus and whales.

They determined that Indohyus’ bones had a thick outer layer, much thicker than that of other mammals of this size.

Below the digital body of the whale's flipper are five toes, or the five-toed tip found in humans, amphibians, and a range of other animals.

They show a common ancestor

Underneath the digital flesh of the whale’s flipper are five “toes,” or the five-toed tip found in humans, amphibians, and a host of other animals. They show a common ancestor

The whale, called Phiomicetus anubis, was about 10 feet long and had a body mass of about 1,300 pounds and was likely a large predator when it roamed the ancient seas.  She lived on land and sea

Phiomicetus anubis was about 10 feet long with a body mass of about 1,300 pounds and was likely a large predator when it roamed the ancient seas. She lived on land and sea

This characteristic is often seen in mammals that are slow water waders, such as today’s hippopotamus.

Further evidence of how the Indohyos lived was found in the bones of its limbs, which were thicker and heavier in the same way as that of a hippopotamus.

This indicates that the animal was a wader, with heavy bones to help keep it from floating.

Based on this evidence, Theuissen suggested that the ancestors of whales moved into the water as a mechanism to avoid predators and did not evolve specific aquatic feeding behavior until much later.

More recent evidence was discovered in Egypt last month – fossils of a previously unknown four-legged whale species that lived 43 million years ago.

The new whale, called Phiomicetus anubis, was about 10 feet long with a body mass of about 1,300 pounds and was likely a predator when it roamed the ancient seas.

Honoring the low-fayum whale, the species name refers to Anubis, the ancient canine-headed Egyptian god associated with mummification and the afterlife.

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