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The order Cetacea includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. Cetus is Latin and is used in biological names to mean "whale"; its original meaning, "large sea animal," was more general. It comes from Greek ketos ("sea monster"). Cetology is the branch of marine science accociated with the study of cetaceans.

Cetaceans are the mammals most fully adapted to aquatic life. Their body is fusiform (spindle-shaped). The forelimbs are modified into flippers. The tiny hindlimbs are vestigial, they do not attach to the backbone and are hidden within the body. The tail has horizontal flukes. Cetaceans are nearly hairless, and are insulated by a thick layer of blubber. Cetacea contains ten families, and about 80 species.

Cetaceans are descendants of land-living mammals, most likely of the Artiodactyl order. They entered the water roughly 50 million years ago.

Taxonomic listing:
The classification here closely follows "Marine Mammals of the World: Systematics and Distribution" by Dale W. Rice (1998). The work has become the standard taxonomy reference in the field. Differences reflect usage of common names and further discoveries since the publication of that work.

Suborder Mysticeti: Baleen whales
Family Balaenidae: Right whales and Bowhead Whale
Genus Balaena
Bowhead Whale, Balaena mysticetus
Genus Eubalaena
Atlantic Northern Right Whale, Eubalaena glacialis
Pacific Northern Right Whale, Eubalaena japonica
Southern Right Whale, Eubalaena australia
Family Balaenopteridae: Rorquals
Subfamily Balaenopterinae
Genus Balaenoptera
Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus
Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis
Bryde's Whale, Balaenoptera brydei
Pygmy Bryde's Whale, (Eden's Whale) Balaenoptera edeni
Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Northern Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Southern Minke Whale, (Antarctic Minke Whale) Balaenoptera bonaerensis
Balaenoptera omurai, discovery announced November 2003. No common name yet in usage
Subfamily Megapterinae
Genus Megaptera
Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
† Genus Eobalaenoptera
† Eobalaenoptera harrisoni, fossil species first discovered June 2004. No common name.
Family Eschrichtiidae
Genus Eschrichtius
Gray Whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Family Neobalaenidae: Pygmy Right Whale
Genus Caperea
Pygmy Right Whale, Caperea marginata
Suborder Odontoceti: toothed whales
Superfamily Platanistoidea: River dolphins
Family Iniidae
Genus Inia
Amazon River Dolphin, Inia geoffrensis
Family Lipotidae
Genus Lipotes
Chinese River Dolphin, Lipotes vexillifer
Family Platanistidae
Genus Platanista
Ganges and Indus River Dolphin, Platanista gangetica
Family Pontoporiidae
Genus Pontoporia
La Plata Dolphin, Pontoporia blainvillei
Family Monodontidae
Genus Monodon
Narwhal, Monodon monocerus
Genus Delphinapterus
Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas
Family Phocoenidae: Porpoises
Genus Neophocaena
Finless Porpoise, Neophocaena phocaenoides
Genus Phocoena
Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocaena
Vaquita, Phocoena sinus
Spectacled Porpoise, Phocoena dioptrica
Burmeister's Porpoise, Phocoena spinipinnis
Genus Phocoenoides
Dall's Porpoise, Phocoenoides dalli
Family Physeteridae: Sperm Whale family
Genus Physeter
Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus
Family Kogiidae
Genus Kogia
Dwarf Sperm Whale, Kogia sima
Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps
Family Ziphidae, Beaked whales
Genus Ziphius
Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris
Genus Berardius
Arnoux's Beaked Whale, Berardius arnuxii
Baird's Beaked Whale (North Pacific Bottlenose Whale), Berardius bairdii
Genus Tasmacetus
Tasman Beaked Whale (Shepherd's Beaked Whale), Tasmacetus shepherdi
Subfamily Hyperoodontidae
Genus Indopacetus
Indo-Pacific Beaked Whale (Longman's Beaked Whale), Indopacetus pacificus
Genus Hyperoodon
Northern Bottlenose Whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus
Southern Bottlenose Whale, Hyperoodon planifrons
Genus Mesoplodon, Mesoplodont Whale
Hector's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon hectori
True's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon mirus
Gervais' Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon europaeus
Sowerby's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens
Gray's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon grayi
Pygmy Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon peruvianus
Andrew's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bowdoini
Bahamonde's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bahamondi
Hubb's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon carlhubbsi
Ginko-toothed Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon ginkgodens
Stejneger's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon stejnegeri
Layard's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon layardii
Blainville's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon densirostris
Family Delphinidae: Dolphin
Genus Cephalorhynchus
Commerson's Dolphin, Cephalorhyncus commersonii
Chilean Dolphin, Cephalorhyncus eutropia
Heaviside's Dolphin, Cephalorhyncus heavisidii
Hector's Dolphin, Cephalorhyncus hectori
Genus Steno
Rough-toothed Dolphin, Steno bredanensis
Genus Sousa
Atlantic Humpback Dolphin, Sousa teuszi
Indian Humpback Dolphin, Sousa plumbea
Pacific Humpback Dolphin, Sousa chinensis
Genus Sotalia
Tucuxi, Sotalia fluviatilis
Genus Tursiops
Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus
Indian Ocean Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops aduncus
Genus Stenella
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Stenella attenuata
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Stenella frontalis
Spinner Dolphin, Stenella longirostris
Clymene Dolphin, Stenella clymene
Striped Dolphin, Stenella coeruleoalba
Genus Delphinus
Short-beaked Common Dolphin, Delphinus delphis
Long-beaked Common Dolphin, Delphinus capensis
(Arabian Common Dolphin, Delphinus tropicalis)
Genus Lagenodelphis
Fraser's Dolphin, Lagenodelphis hosei
Genus Lagenorhynchus
White-beaked Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus albirostris
Atlantic White-sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus
Pacific White-sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens
Dusky Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obscurus
Black-chinned Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis
Hourglass Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus cruciger
Genus Lissodelphis
Northern Right Whale Dolphin, Lissodelphis borealis
Southern Right Whale Dolphin, Lissodelphis peronii
Genus Grampus
Risso's Dolphin, Grampus griseus
Genus Peponocephala
Melon-headed Whale, Peponocephala electra
Genus Feresa
Pygmy Killer Whale, Feresa attenuata
Genus Pseudorca
False Killer Whale, Pseudorca crassidens
Genus Orcinus
Orca, Orcinus orca
Genus Globicephala
Long-finned Pilot Whale, Globicephala melas
Short-finned Pilot Whale, Globicephala macrorhyncus
Genus Orcaella
Irrawaddy Dolphin, Orcaella brevirostris

References: Rice, Dale W. (1998). Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution. Society of Marine Mammalogy Special Publication Number 4.