Unique Prehistoric Dolphin Discovered

A prehistoric dolphin newly discovered in the Hakataramea Valley in South Canterbury appears to have had a unique method for catching its prey, Evrim Yazgin writes for Cosmos magazine.

Aureia rerehua was uncovered in a limestone quarry in a layer of sediment that dates to 22–23 million years ago.

The new dolphin is known from a very well-preserved skull.

One feature of the skull caught the palaeontologists’ eyes: spread out and splayed teeth. They suggest that the dolphin could have hunted in a unique way.

The researchers theorise the dolphin could have swept through schools of fish in shallow waters. Closing its mouth, it could have trapped its prey against its splayed teeth.

“Though less tightly packed than the teeth of these filter feeding reptiles, the spaced teeth of A. rerehua might still have caged small fish, innovating a unique feeding strategy among odontocetes,” authors of the paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand say.

Original article by Evrim Yazgin, Cosmos, February 22, 2024.

Tags: Aureia rerehua  Cosmos  dolphins  Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand  palaeontology  

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