Navigation Links
Ancient whale species sheds new light on its modern relatives
Date:3/25/2012

Beluga whales and narwhals live solely in the cold waters of the Arctic and sub-arctic. Smithsonian scientists, however, found that this may not have always been the case. They recently described a new species of toothed whale and close relative to today's belugas and narwhals that lived some 3-4 million years ago during the Pliocene in warm water regions.

Why and when its modern-day relatives evolved to live only in northern latitudes remains a mystery. The team's research was recently described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontolog.

This new species, Bohaskaia monodontoides, is known only from a nearly complete skull found in 1969 in a mine near Hampton, Va.

Since its discovery, the skull has been housed in the paleontology collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. It was loosely identified as belonging to a beluga whale but it had never been closely studied.

In 2010, Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Smithsonian predoctoral fellow from Howard University, and Nicholas Pyenson, research geologist of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History began a close anatomical comparison of the fossil skull with the skeletons of belugas and narwhals in the Smithsonian's collection.

Their study confirmed that the fossil skull was that of a new toothed whale species―one that shared features of the snout and face with belugas and narwhals. The fossil skull contained enough unique features however, to merit its placement as a new genus and species.

"Fossils referred to as belugas have been known from fragmentary bits, but skulls are so revealing because they contain so many informative features," Pyenson says. "We realized this skull was not something assignable to a beluga, and when we sat down, comparing the fossil side by side with the actual skulls of belugas and narwhals, we found it was a very different animal."

As Bohaskaia monodontoides was found in the temperate climate of Virginia, and a second extinct beluga-related toothed whale, Denebola branchycephala is known from a fossil found in Baja California, Velez-Juarbe and Pyenson surmise that the cold-climate adaptations of narwhals and beluga, which today live and breed only in the Arctic and sub-arctic, must have evolved only recently.

"The fact is that living belugas and narwhals are found only in the Arctic and subarctic, yet the early fossil record of the monodontids extends well into temperate and tropical regions," Pyenson says. "For evidence of how and when the Arctic adaptations of belugas and narwhals arose we will have to look more recently in time."

The change may be "related to oceanographic changes during or after the Pliocene affecting the marine food chain," Velez-Juarbe says, "then competition or dietary preferences drove monodontids further north."


'/>"/>

Contact: John Gibbons
gibbonsjp@si.edu
202-633-5187
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Ancient civilizations reveal ways to manage fisheries for sustainability
2. Melting glaciers, enough sand to bury London, and ancient ecosystem engineering
3. UF scientists name new ancient camels from Panama Canal excavation
4. Fossilized pollen unlocks secrets of ancient royal garden
5. Breakthrough model reveals evolution of ancient nervous systems through seashell colors
6. High genetic diversity in an ancient Hawaiian clone
7. Researcher finds key to ancient weather patterns in Floridas caves
8. Ancient dry spells offer clues about the future of drought
9. Journal of Neuroscience: Why evolutionarily ancient brain areas are important
10. Ancient environment led to Earths current marine biodiversity
11. Details of ancient shark attack preserved in fossil whale bone
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Ancient whale species sheds new light on its modern relatives
(Date:11/19/2016)... , Nov. 18, 2016 Securus Technologies, ... solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, announced ... smaller competitor, ICSolutions, to have an independent technology judge ... the most modern high tech/sophisticated telephone calling platform, and ... customers that they do most of what we do ...
(Date:11/15/2016)...  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: SYN), a ... gut microbiome, today announced the pricing of an ... common stock and warrants to purchase 50,000,000 shares ... the public of $1.00 per share and accompanying ... offering, excluding the proceeds, if any from the ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... The report forecasts the biometrics ... a CAGR of 12.28% during the period 2016-2020. ... with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the market landscape ... includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... MA (PRWEB) , ... December 02, 2016 , ... Robots ... Light Event on December 3rd, 2016. The event, which is held on the ... work with helping Americans with Disabilities back into the workplace. Suitable Technologies is partnering ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... December 2, 2016 The immunohistochemistry (IHC) ... at a CAGR of 7.3% during the forecast period of 2016 ... diagnostic laboratories segment accounted for the largest share of immunohistochemistry (IHC) ... , ... global immunohistochemistry (IHC) market spread across 225 pages, profiling 10 companies ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... BEI Kimco, a brand ... a flexure design that ensures high alignment accuracy by preventing unwanted shaft rotation. ... suited where extreme precision is required, such as in medical equipment, laboratory instrumentation, ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , November 30, 2016 ... a few players hold a dominant share in the ... River Laboratories International, Inc., and Merck KGaA, held a ... 2015. Transparency Market Research observes that these companies are ... on development products that are do not require rabbit ...
Breaking Biology Technology: