The morphology and systematics of Mammalodon colliveri (Cetacea: Mysticeti), a toothed mysticete from the Oligocene of Australia

Authors

  • ERICH M. G. FITZGERALD

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Geosciences, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia
    2. Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia
    3. Division of Mammals, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, NHB MRC 108, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
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E-mail: efitzgerald@museum.vic.gov.au

Abstract

Mammalodon colliveri is an unusual toothed archaic mysticete (Cetacea) from the Upper Oligocene Jan Juc Formation of south-east Australia. The morphology of the holotype skull and postcrania are described in detail. Superimposed on the generally plesiomorphic archaeocete-like morphology of Mammalodon are subtle mysticete synapomorphies. Derived features of Mammalodon include a short and bluntly rounded rostrum, reduced premaxillae, and anterodorsally directed orbits. Within Mysticeti, this suite of features is unique. The aberrant rostral morphology of Mammalodon suggests specialization for suction feeding. Janjucetus hunderi is placed in an expanded family Mammalodontidae. Phylogenetic analysis corroborates the monophyly of Basilosauridae, Neoceti, Odontoceti, and Mysticeti, and yields a novel hypothesis of toothed mysticete relationships: a basal clade of undescribed toothed mysticetes from South Carolina, a Llanocetidae + Mammalodontidae clade, and monophyletic Aetiocetidae are posited as successive sister taxa to edentulous baleen whales (Chaeomysticeti). Toothed archaic mysticetes clearly employed diverse prey capture strategies, with exaptations for filter feeding evolving sequentially in stem group Mysticeti. A stratigraphically calibrated phylogeny implies that the initial diversification of Mysticeti occurred during the Late Eocene.

© 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 158, 367–476.

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