An Australian paleobiologist has made a curious discovery about the origins of baleen whales. Studying the 25-million-year-old fossil of a primitive toothed baleen whale, Mammalodon colliveri, Dr. Erich Fitzgerald hypothesized that the early whale used its tongue and short, blunt snout to suck small prey from sand and mud on the seafloor. Yummy.
Fitzgerald’s work supports Darwin's notion that some of the earliest baleen whales may have been mudsuckers before they were filter-feeders.
And apparently the three-meter-long Mammalodon was actually a dwarf, though its name brings to mind its relative, the blue whale -- the largest animall in the history of the world.
As Dr. Fitzgerald said, “Clearly the seas off southern Australia were a cradle for the evolution of a variety of tiny, weird whales that seem to have lived nowhere else.”
- CEO Note: Progress for Sharks Posted Fri, August 15, 2014
- Photos: Oceana’s Balearic Expedition Confirms Need for Expanded Marine Protected Areas Posted Tue, August 19, 2014
- Video: Meet Some of the Most Famous Satellite Tagged Sharks Posted Thu, August 14, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: New Coral Reef Species Discovered, Seals Found to Spread Tuberculosis 6,000 Years Ago, and More Posted Thu, August 21, 2014
- Ocean News: New Minke Whale Foraging Patterns Discovered, Google Street View Takes on the Florida Keys, and More Posted Mon, August 18, 2014