Walking With Wikis


Dorudon - a species of ancient whale.

Sea Monsters, Into the Jaws of Death

Dorudon was a small, early whale from the Eocene. It was related to the larger and far more lethal Basilosaurus.

Creature attributes

Physical appearance and biology

Dorudon was a small whale. Related to the apex predator Basilosaurus, they shared many similar physical traits. It had a relatively large skull with a pair of jaws lined with sharp teeth used to grip onto prey. It also had small hind limbs used to help males and females lock onto each other during copulation.

However, it lacked the melon organ of the modern dolphins and whales, and so it couldn't produce ultrasounds as they did - instead Dorudon communicated with each other by high-pitched sounds that sounded vaguely like squeaking. Just like Basilosaurus, Dorudon also lacked blubber and needed warm and rather shallow waters to live.

Behavior and traits

Dorudon, unlike its larger relative, was a social animal. They lived in pods that ranged in size and age. Whilst some groups contained over twenty individuals, some would consist of just a few. They lived in these groups to protect their offspring, as shown by a large number of Dorudon fossils in Egypt's Fayum deposits, both of adults and calves.

When females are ready to give birth, they would instinctively return to shallow waters and make a nursery for the newborns. Giving birth in shallow waters would restrict large predators like Basilosaurus from entry. In the egyptian discovery, however, some Dorudon fossils are crushed or have teeth marks that match Basilosaurus teeth, so this strategy wasn't always successful. 

The distribution of Dorudon ranged. Some groups, particularly larger groups, would live in open, deep waters whilst smaller groups would live in shallow waters and mangrove swamps.

In Walking with Beasts

Whale Killer

A large group of female Dorudon gathered in the open waters to go to the calving grounds. However, as they do so, a large female Basilosaurus appeared but fortunately for the small whales, they were able to repel the predator by mobbing her.

A mother Dorudon and her baby

Soon after, at the calving grounds, the first Dorudon calves were being born and the Basilosaurus found the sanctuary. However, as some of the female shepherded the newborns away, the rest attacked the carnivore and scared her off.

Moment later, the persistent Basilosaurus reappeared and began a frenzy, killing several of the calves. The female returned for several more days, feeding on the baby Dorudon until the females had finished giving birth and left.

In Sea Monsters

Into the Jaws of Death

Whilst swimming with an Arsinoitherium, a trio of inquisitive Dorudon approached Nigel Marven and swam around him before swimming away.


Behind the scenes

When the first fossils of Dorudon were discovered, scientists thought they belonged to a juvenile Basilosaurus. It wasn't until the discovery of juvenile specimens of Dorudon that it was declared its own genus.[1]

Dorudon was most likely not a social animal as they were portrayed in the Walking with... Series. The whales of the Late Eocene-including Basilosaurus did not have the melon organ that modern whales have. Therefore, they weren't as intelligent compared to the whales we see today nor did they have echolocation.

List of appearances

Notes and references