Pakicetidae ("Pakistani whales") is an extinct family of early whales that lived during the Early Eocene on the shores of Pakistan.
described the first pakicetid, Ichthyolestes
, but at the time they did not recognize it as a cetacean, but identified it as a fish-eating mesonychid
. Robert West was the first to identify pakicetids as cetaceans in 1980 and, after discovering a braincase, Phillip Gingerich and Donald Russell described the genus Pakicetus
in 1981. During the following two decades, more research resulted in additional pakicetid cranial material and by 2001 postcranial material for the family had been described. Though all parts of pakicetid postcrania are known, no complete skeleton from a single individual has been recovered.
The pakicetid goldmine is the "H-GSP Locality 62" site in the Kala Chitta Hills
where fossils from all three genera have been found. However, this site is so littered with bones that identifying bones from a single individual is impossible, and pakicetid skeletons are consequently composites of bones from several individuals.