Bizarre fossil beaked whales (Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) fished from the Atlantic Ocean floor off the Iberian Peninsula

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Abstract

Forty partial fossil skulls belonging to beaked whales (Cetacea, Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) were collected by trawling and long-line fishing on Neogene (probably Late Early to Middle Miocene) layers of the Atlantic floor off the coasts of Portugal and Spain (Asturias and Galicia). e systematic study of the most diagnostic Iberian specimens, those preserving the rostrum and the dorsal part of the cranium, led to the recognition of two new genera (Globicetus n. gen. and Imocetus n. gen.) and four new species (Choneziphius leidyi n. sp., G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp., I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp., and Tusciziphius atlanticus n. sp.).
Based on the matrix of a previous work, the phylogenetic analysis places all the new taxa in the subfamily Ziphiinae Gray, 1850. More fragmentary specimens are tentatively referred to the genera Caviziphius Bianucci & Post, 2005 and Ziphirostrum du Bus, 1868. Among these new ziphiids, extremely bizarre skull morphologies are observed. In G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. the proximal portion of the rostrum bears a voluminous premaxillary spheroid. In T. atlanticus n. sp. a medial premaxillary bulge is present on the rostrum; together with asymmetric
rostral maxillary eminences at the rostrum base, this bulge displays various degrees of elevation in different specimens, which may be interpreted as sexual dimorphism. Specimens of I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. bear two sets of even crests: spur-like rostral maxillary crests and longitudinal maxillary crests laterally bordering a wide and long facial basin. A preliminary macroscopic observation of these elements indicates very dense bones, with a compactness comparable with that of cetacean ear bones. Questioning their function, the high medial rostral elements (the premaxillary spheroid of G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. and the medial bulge of T. atlanticus n. sp.) remind the huge rostral maxillary crests of adult males of the extant Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster, 1770). In the latter, the crests are very likely related to head-butting. However, they are made of much more spongy bone than in the fossil taxa studied here, and therefore possibly better mechanically suited for facing impacts. Other interpretations of these unusual bone specializations, related to deep-diving (ballast) and echolocation (sound reflection), fail to explain the diversity of shapes and the hypothetical sexual dimorphism observed in at least part of the taxa. e spur-like rostral maxillary crests and long maxillary crests limiting the large facial basin in I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. and the excrescences on the maxilla at the rostrum base in Choneziphius spp. are instead interpreted as areas of origin for rostral and facial muscles, acting on the nasal passages, blowhole, and melon. From a palaeobiogeographic point of view, the newly described taxa further emphasize the differences in the North Atlantic (including Iberian Peninsula) and South African Neogene ziphiid faunal lists. Even if the stratigraphic context is poorly understood, leaving open the question of the geological age for most of the dredged specimens, these differences in the composition of cold to temperate northern and southern hemisphere fossil ziphiid faunas may be explained by a warm-water equatorial barrier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-153
Number of pages47
JournalGeodiversitas
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

whale
bone
seafloor
fossil
sexual dimorphism
skull
Neogene
echolocation
cranium
trawling
cetacean
diving
new taxon
warm water
basin
new genus
Southern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
fishing
muscle

Keywords

  • Cetacea
  • Odontoceti
  • Ziphiidae
  • Neogene
  • Miocene
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • phylogeny
  • skull morphology
  • new genera
  • new species

Cite this

@article{d97f2044e62649b88eb5c4f40756b5c4,
title = "Bizarre fossil beaked whales (Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) fished from the Atlantic Ocean floor off the Iberian Peninsula",
abstract = "Forty partial fossil skulls belonging to beaked whales (Cetacea, Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) were collected by trawling and long-line fishing on Neogene (probably Late Early to Middle Miocene) layers of the Atlantic floor off the coasts of Portugal and Spain (Asturias and Galicia). e systematic study of the most diagnostic Iberian specimens, those preserving the rostrum and the dorsal part of the cranium, led to the recognition of two new genera (Globicetus n. gen. and Imocetus n. gen.) and four new species (Choneziphius leidyi n. sp., G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp., I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp., and Tusciziphius atlanticus n. sp.). Based on the matrix of a previous work, the phylogenetic analysis places all the new taxa in the subfamily Ziphiinae Gray, 1850. More fragmentary specimens are tentatively referred to the genera Caviziphius Bianucci & Post, 2005 and Ziphirostrum du Bus, 1868. Among these new ziphiids, extremely bizarre skull morphologies are observed. In G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. the proximal portion of the rostrum bears a voluminous premaxillary spheroid. In T. atlanticus n. sp. a medial premaxillary bulge is present on the rostrum; together with asymmetric rostral maxillary eminences at the rostrum base, this bulge displays various degrees of elevation in different specimens, which may be interpreted as sexual dimorphism. Specimens of I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. bear two sets of even crests: spur-like rostral maxillary crests and longitudinal maxillary crests laterally bordering a wide and long facial basin. A preliminary macroscopic observation of these elements indicates very dense bones, with a compactness comparable with that of cetacean ear bones. Questioning their function, the high medial rostral elements (the premaxillary spheroid of G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. and the medial bulge of T. atlanticus n. sp.) remind the huge rostral maxillary crests of adult males of the extant Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster, 1770). In the latter, the crests are very likely related to head-butting. However, they are made of much more spongy bone than in the fossil taxa studied here, and therefore possibly better mechanically suited for facing impacts. Other interpretations of these unusual bone specializations, related to deep-diving (ballast) and echolocation (sound reflection), fail to explain the diversity of shapes and the hypothetical sexual dimorphism observed in at least part of the taxa. e spur-like rostral maxillary crests and long maxillary crests limiting the large facial basin in I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. and the excrescences on the maxilla at the rostrum base in Choneziphius spp. are instead interpreted as areas of origin for rostral and facial muscles, acting on the nasal passages, blowhole, and melon. From a palaeobiogeographic point of view, the newly described taxa further emphasize the differences in the North Atlantic (including Iberian Peninsula) and South African Neogene ziphiid faunal lists. Even if the stratigraphic context is poorly understood, leaving open the question of the geological age for most of the dredged specimens, these differences in the composition of cold to temperate northern and southern hemisphere fossil ziphiid faunas may be explained by a warm-water equatorial barrier.",
keywords = "Miocene, Ziphiidae, skull morphology, Spain, new genera, Cetacea, Neogene, new species, Odontoceti, Portugal, phylogeny, Cetacea, Odontoceti, Ziphiidae, Neogene, Miocene, Portugal, Spain, phylogeny, skull morphology, new genera, new species",
author = "Oct{\'a}vio Mateus",
note = "Sem PDF",
year = "2013",
doi = "10.5252/g2013n1a6",
language = "English",
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pages = "105--153",
journal = "Geodiversitas",
issn = "1280-9659",
publisher = "Mus{\'e}um national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Bizarre fossil beaked whales (Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) fished from the Atlantic Ocean floor off the Iberian Peninsula

AU - Mateus, Octávio

N1 - Sem PDF

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - Forty partial fossil skulls belonging to beaked whales (Cetacea, Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) were collected by trawling and long-line fishing on Neogene (probably Late Early to Middle Miocene) layers of the Atlantic floor off the coasts of Portugal and Spain (Asturias and Galicia). e systematic study of the most diagnostic Iberian specimens, those preserving the rostrum and the dorsal part of the cranium, led to the recognition of two new genera (Globicetus n. gen. and Imocetus n. gen.) and four new species (Choneziphius leidyi n. sp., G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp., I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp., and Tusciziphius atlanticus n. sp.). Based on the matrix of a previous work, the phylogenetic analysis places all the new taxa in the subfamily Ziphiinae Gray, 1850. More fragmentary specimens are tentatively referred to the genera Caviziphius Bianucci & Post, 2005 and Ziphirostrum du Bus, 1868. Among these new ziphiids, extremely bizarre skull morphologies are observed. In G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. the proximal portion of the rostrum bears a voluminous premaxillary spheroid. In T. atlanticus n. sp. a medial premaxillary bulge is present on the rostrum; together with asymmetric rostral maxillary eminences at the rostrum base, this bulge displays various degrees of elevation in different specimens, which may be interpreted as sexual dimorphism. Specimens of I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. bear two sets of even crests: spur-like rostral maxillary crests and longitudinal maxillary crests laterally bordering a wide and long facial basin. A preliminary macroscopic observation of these elements indicates very dense bones, with a compactness comparable with that of cetacean ear bones. Questioning their function, the high medial rostral elements (the premaxillary spheroid of G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. and the medial bulge of T. atlanticus n. sp.) remind the huge rostral maxillary crests of adult males of the extant Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster, 1770). In the latter, the crests are very likely related to head-butting. However, they are made of much more spongy bone than in the fossil taxa studied here, and therefore possibly better mechanically suited for facing impacts. Other interpretations of these unusual bone specializations, related to deep-diving (ballast) and echolocation (sound reflection), fail to explain the diversity of shapes and the hypothetical sexual dimorphism observed in at least part of the taxa. e spur-like rostral maxillary crests and long maxillary crests limiting the large facial basin in I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. and the excrescences on the maxilla at the rostrum base in Choneziphius spp. are instead interpreted as areas of origin for rostral and facial muscles, acting on the nasal passages, blowhole, and melon. From a palaeobiogeographic point of view, the newly described taxa further emphasize the differences in the North Atlantic (including Iberian Peninsula) and South African Neogene ziphiid faunal lists. Even if the stratigraphic context is poorly understood, leaving open the question of the geological age for most of the dredged specimens, these differences in the composition of cold to temperate northern and southern hemisphere fossil ziphiid faunas may be explained by a warm-water equatorial barrier.

AB - Forty partial fossil skulls belonging to beaked whales (Cetacea, Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) were collected by trawling and long-line fishing on Neogene (probably Late Early to Middle Miocene) layers of the Atlantic floor off the coasts of Portugal and Spain (Asturias and Galicia). e systematic study of the most diagnostic Iberian specimens, those preserving the rostrum and the dorsal part of the cranium, led to the recognition of two new genera (Globicetus n. gen. and Imocetus n. gen.) and four new species (Choneziphius leidyi n. sp., G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp., I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp., and Tusciziphius atlanticus n. sp.). Based on the matrix of a previous work, the phylogenetic analysis places all the new taxa in the subfamily Ziphiinae Gray, 1850. More fragmentary specimens are tentatively referred to the genera Caviziphius Bianucci & Post, 2005 and Ziphirostrum du Bus, 1868. Among these new ziphiids, extremely bizarre skull morphologies are observed. In G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. the proximal portion of the rostrum bears a voluminous premaxillary spheroid. In T. atlanticus n. sp. a medial premaxillary bulge is present on the rostrum; together with asymmetric rostral maxillary eminences at the rostrum base, this bulge displays various degrees of elevation in different specimens, which may be interpreted as sexual dimorphism. Specimens of I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. bear two sets of even crests: spur-like rostral maxillary crests and longitudinal maxillary crests laterally bordering a wide and long facial basin. A preliminary macroscopic observation of these elements indicates very dense bones, with a compactness comparable with that of cetacean ear bones. Questioning their function, the high medial rostral elements (the premaxillary spheroid of G. hiberus n. gen., n. sp. and the medial bulge of T. atlanticus n. sp.) remind the huge rostral maxillary crests of adult males of the extant Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster, 1770). In the latter, the crests are very likely related to head-butting. However, they are made of much more spongy bone than in the fossil taxa studied here, and therefore possibly better mechanically suited for facing impacts. Other interpretations of these unusual bone specializations, related to deep-diving (ballast) and echolocation (sound reflection), fail to explain the diversity of shapes and the hypothetical sexual dimorphism observed in at least part of the taxa. e spur-like rostral maxillary crests and long maxillary crests limiting the large facial basin in I. piscatus n. gen., n. sp. and the excrescences on the maxilla at the rostrum base in Choneziphius spp. are instead interpreted as areas of origin for rostral and facial muscles, acting on the nasal passages, blowhole, and melon. From a palaeobiogeographic point of view, the newly described taxa further emphasize the differences in the North Atlantic (including Iberian Peninsula) and South African Neogene ziphiid faunal lists. Even if the stratigraphic context is poorly understood, leaving open the question of the geological age for most of the dredged specimens, these differences in the composition of cold to temperate northern and southern hemisphere fossil ziphiid faunas may be explained by a warm-water equatorial barrier.

KW - Miocene

KW - Ziphiidae

KW - skull morphology

KW - Spain

KW - new genera

KW - Cetacea

KW - Neogene

KW - new species

KW - Odontoceti

KW - Portugal

KW - phylogeny

KW - Cetacea

KW - Odontoceti

KW - Ziphiidae

KW - Neogene

KW - Miocene

KW - Portugal

KW - Spain

KW - phylogeny

KW - skull morphology

KW - new genera

KW - new species

U2 - 10.5252/g2013n1a6

DO - 10.5252/g2013n1a6

M3 - Article

VL - 35

SP - 105

EP - 153

JO - Geodiversitas

JF - Geodiversitas

SN - 1280-9659

IS - 1

ER -