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Home / Science / 27 million year old fossil in New Zealand helps to identify the world's oldest known baleen whale

27 million year old fossil in New Zealand helps to identify the world's oldest known baleen whale



This archaic baleen whale, ignored 30 years after its discovery, is finally in the limelight.

A whale fossil found in New Zealand's South Canterbury district three decades ago has led to an unexpected find reporting the story of Wal-Evolution, National Geographic

The fossil dates from 27 Million years ago and was identified as a previously unknown genus of baleen foll.

Although the fossil has been discovered for some time-a skull and a selection of associated bones-it has only just been studied by two researchers at the University of Otago.

The long overdue analysis – conducted by Professor Ewan Fordyce of the Geology Department of the University and former Ph.D. The student Cheng-Hsiu Tsai ̵

1; revealed that the ancient remains were indeed among the oldest ancestors of living baleen whales, the university announced in a press release.

"This is a pretty old whale that reaches back to old age from the dinosaurs," explained Fordyce.

"It's about as common a common ancestor as we are for the living baleen whales like the minke whales and the right whales," he added.

The couple have called the newly discovered class Toipahautea waitaki (Maori for "baleen originals from the Waitaki region") and have a study in the journal Royal Society Open Science published, which describes their discovery.

Baleen whales, part of the Mysticati cetacea suborder, are named after the bark plates in the upper jaw that replace teeth. Feed these whales by swallowing large amounts of seawater and then using the baleens to filter the krill that is being drawn.

Today's baleen whales are among the planet's largest whales, and include a wide range of whales, notes National Geographic

The group includes all from the 112-foot blue whale to the 35-foot minke whale This list of whales breeds some of the most famous names in the whale world, such as the fin whale (the second largest, after the blue whale), the humpback whale, the right and the bowhead whale.

But it seems that these modern baleen whales are considerably larger when you rediscovered kter ancestor.

According to Fordyce, the Toipahautea waitaki fossil was about "half the size of an adult minke whale" the second smallest baleen whale (after the minke whale), the size of the fossil was indeed quite modest.

Stuff.co.nz reports that the newly discovered fossil belonged to either a juvenile or a physically immature

The skeleton found in South Canterbury's rural Hakataramea Valley only measured approximately 16.4 feet in the body, while the skull added another 3.2 feet to the overall length of the fossil.

This archaic baleen had long and narrow toothless jaws, suggesting that it is fed in a similar way to the minke whales that we see today, the press release notes.

This is an important discovery in itself because it distorts the previously circulated theory that baleen whales initially started out with teeth and then the baleen grew between individual teeth, states Yahoo! News .

The two researchers who identified Toipahautea waitaki believe that even older fossils of baleen whales will be discovered in the future.

"As sure as the sun rises in the east, we will find older baleen whales," said Fordyce.

"But now it anchors the modern baleen-whale line to at least 27.5 million years," he concluded.

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