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The cetaceans conquered the marine environment over 60 million years ago, when they were still terrestrial mammals living along the shores of a shallow sea that washed the coasts of what was not yet Eurasia and Africa. The evolutionary adaptations that enabled the cetaceans to make this radical change of environment brought them closer in physiology to fish, but they never lost their essential mammalian nature. Today, the known cetaceans are represented by some 81 species and have colonized practically all of the oceans and even some of the great rivers of South America and Asia. The final section of the book includes a directory with beautiful scientific illustrations of each species and a convenient listing of distinguishing characteristics, distribution, and unusual facts.