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Fragilicetus velponi: a new mysticete genus and species and its implications for the origin of Balaenopteridae (Mammalia, Cetacea, Mysticeti)
Bisconti, M.; Bosselaers, M. (2016). Fragilicetus velponi: a new mysticete genus and species and its implications for the origin of Balaenopteridae (Mammalia, Cetacea, Mysticeti). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 177(2): 450-474. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/zoj.12370
In: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Academic Press: London. ISSN 0024-4082; e-ISSN 1096-3642, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Fragilicetus
    Marine
Author keywords
    Belgium; feeding behavior; Fragilicetus; phylogeny; Pliocene

Authors  Top 
  • Bisconti, M.
  • Bosselaers, M., more

Abstract
    A new extinct genus, Fragilicetus gen. nov., is described here based on a partial skull of a baleen-bearing whale from the Early Pliocene of the North Sea. Its type species is Fragilicetus velponi sp. nov. This new whale shows a mix of morphological characters that is intermediate between those of Eschrichtiidae and those of Balaenopteridae. A phylogenetic analysis supported this view and provided insights into some of the morphological transformations that occurred in the process leading to the origin of Balaenopteridae. Balaenopterid whales show specialized feeding behaviour that allows them to catch enormous amounts of prey. This behaviour is possible because of the presence of specialized anatomical features in the supraorbital process of the frontal, temporal fossa, glenoid fossa of the squamosal, and dentary. Fragilicetus velponi gen. et sp. nov. shares the shape of the supraorbital process of the frontal and significant details of the temporal fossa with Balaenopteridae but maintains an eschrichtiid- and cetotheriid-like squamosal bulge and posteriorly protruded exoccipital. The character combination exhibited by this cetacean provides important information about the assembly of the specialized morphological features responsible for the highly efficient prey capture mechanics of Balaenopteridae.

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