Researchers Identify New Fossil Whale Species of New Zealand

Researchers from the University of Otago have identified three new whale species that once lived in New Zealand.

The “researchers’ discovery and description of the Tokarahia kauaeroa and Tokarahia lophocephalus whales helps to fill in an important gap in the history of the evolution of primitive toothed whales into baleen whales,” according to e Science News.

“More importantly though, they fill in major gaps of knowledge–anatomy, growth, paleoecology–in whale evolution between ‘toothy’ archaeocete ancestors and toothless modern species,” said Dr Robert Boessenecker, a recent Otago Geology PhD graduate.

These filter-feeding whales with an estimated adult size of between five to six metres lived around 25-30 million years ago when the continent of Zealandia was reduced to low islands surrounded by extensive shallow seas.

“These early baleen whales are ‘children of climate change’ since their history is linked closely to an Antarctic cooling pulse that led to the development of modern ocean circulation,” said Professor Ewan Fordyce.

Article Source: e Science News, September 12, 2015.

Image Source: Twitter – Bobby Boesseneker

Tags: eScience News  Ewan Fordyce  fossils  Professor Ewan Fordyce  Science  University of Otago  Whale Fossils  Whales  

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