Researchers have discovered four genes that have allowed whales to reach enormous sizes in comparison to their ancestors.
The scientists, whose findings were recently published in Scientific Reports, found that while whales, dolphins and porpoises evolved from small land-based creatures millions of years ago, the presence of four genes called GHSR, IGFBP7, NCAPG and PLAG1 has allowed whales to reach epic proportions while reducing some of the major drawbacks of being enormous.
Often growing to enormous size brings with it risks like cancer; however, it seems (albeit it is unclear how) that the genes in whales drive the growth and mitigate some of the associated risks.
The scientists looked at 19 species of whales, including seven that reach a length of over 10 meters/33ft. They found evolutionary selection for all four genes in most species, including the blue, fin, humpback and gray whale.
You can find the original study here.