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PeerJ. 2019 Feb 13;7:e6426. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6426. eCollection 2019.

A large Late Miocene cetotheriid (Cetacea, Mysticeti) from the Netherlands clarifies the status of Tranatocetidae.

Author information

1
Department of Geology, Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium.
2
Directorate of Earth and History of Life, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.
3
Palaeontology, Museums Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
4
School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
5
Natuurhistorisch Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
6
Zeeland Royal Society of Sciences, Middelburg, The Netherlands.
7
Netherlands Institute of Applied Geoscience TNO - National Geological Survey, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Cetotheriidae are a group of small baleen whales (Mysticeti) that evolved alongside modern rorquals. They once enjoyed a nearly global distribution, but then largely went extinct during the Plio-Pleistocene. After languishing as a wastebasket taxon for more than a century, the concept of Cetotheriidae is now well established. Nevertheless, the clade remains notable for its variability, and its scope remains in flux. In particular, the recent referral of several traditional cetotheriids to a new and seemingly unrelated family, Tranatocetidae, has created major phylogenetic uncertainty. Here, we describe a new species of Tranatocetus, the type of Tranatocetidae, from the Late Miocene of the Netherlands. Tranatocetus maregermanicum sp. nov. clarifies several of the traits previously ascribed to this genus, and reveals distinctive auditory and mandibular morphologies suggesting cetotheriid affinities. This interpretation is supported by a large phylogenetic analysis, which mingles cetotheriids and tranatocetids within a unified clade. As a result, we suggest that both groups should be reintegrated into the single family Cetotheriidae.

KEYWORDS:

Baleen whale; Body size; Evolution; Phylogeny; Systematics

PMID:
30783574
PMCID:
PMC6377596
DOI:
10.7717/peerj.6426
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Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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