5 years ago

Northern pygmy right whales highlight Quaternary marine mammal interchange

Northern pygmy right whales highlight Quaternary marine mammal interchange
Masayuki Oishi, Mark Bosselaers, Cheng-Hsiu Tsai, Giovanni Bianucci, Naoki Kohno, Erich M.G. Fitzgerald, Rita Catanzariti, Gianni Insacco, Alberto Collareta, Agatino Reitano, Felix G. Marx


The pygmy right whale, Caperea marginata, is the most enigmatic living whale. Little is known about its ecology and behaviour, but unusual specialisations of visual pigments [1], mitochondrial tRNAs [2], and postcranial anatomy [3] suggest a lifestyle different from that of other extant whales. Geographically, Caperea represents the only major baleen whale lineage entirely restricted to the Southern Ocean. Caperea-like fossils, the oldest of which date to the Late Miocene, are exceedingly rare and likewise limited to the Southern Hemisphere [4], despite a more substantial history of fossil sampling north of the equator. Two new Pleistocene fossils now provide unexpected evidence of a brief and relatively recent period in geological history when Caperea occurred in the Northern Hemisphere (Figure 1A,B).

Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(17)31096-5

DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.056

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