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A small whale reveals diversity of the Eocene cetacean fauna of Antarctica
Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4780-5338
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2268-5824
2021 (English)In: Antarctic Science, ISSN 0954-1020, E-ISSN 1365-2079, Vol. 33, no 1, p. 81-88Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Cetacean fossils have been recorded from middle and late Eocene deposits on Seymour Island since the beginning of the twentieth century and include fully aquatic Basilosauridae and stem Neoceti. Here, we report a small cetacean vertebra tentatively referred to as Neoceti from the late Eocene of Seymour Island. It shows a mosaic of traits, some of which are characteristic of early Neoceti (anteroposteriorly long transverse processes; a ventral keel on the ventral side of the centrum; thin pedicles of the neural arch), whereas others are shared with Basilosauridae (low-placed bases of the transverse processes). However, some traits are unique and may be autapomorphic: presence of separate prezygapophyses on the vertebra at the thoracic/lumbar boundary and a proportionally short centrum. Both traits imply a fast swimming style, which is characteristic of modern dolphins rather than Eocene cetaceans. Thus, this specimen can be identified as Neoceti indet., with some hypothetical odontocete affinities. Along with a few other Eocene whale taxa, it seems to be among the earliest known members of Neoceti on Earth. The finding of small and fast-swimming Neoceti in Antarctica also demonstrates early diversification of cetaceans and ecological niche partitioning by them dating back as early as the late Eocene.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. Vol. 33, no 1, p. 81-88
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Diversity of life; The changing Earth
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-4578DOI: 10.1017/s0954102020000516OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-4578DiVA, id: diva2:1620600
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2009-4447Available from: 2021-12-01 Created: 2021-12-16 Last updated: 2022-01-11Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://doi.org/10.1017/S0954102020000516

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Davydenko, SvitozarMörs, ThomasGol'din, Pavel
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