[MARMAM] New paper on fossilised baleen

Felix Marx felix.marx at monash.edu
Wed May 24 01:03:08 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues,

please find below the abstract and link to our recently published paper on
the exceptional occurrence of fossilised baleen in the Miocene cetotheriid
Piscobalaena nana:

Marx, F.G., Collareta, A., Gioncada, A., Post, K., Lambert, O., Bonaccorsi,
E., Urbina, M. & Bianucci, G. 2017 How whales used to filter: exceptionally
preserved baleen in a Miocene cetotheriid. *Journal of Anatomy*, published

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/joa.12622/full

Abstract: Baleen is a comb-like structure that enables mysticete whales to
bulk feed on vast quantities of small prey, and ultimately allowed them to
become the largest animals on Earth. Because baleen rarely fossilises,
extremely little is known about its evolution, structure and function
outside the living families. Here we describe, for the first time, the
exceptionally preserved baleen apparatus of an entirely extinct mysticete
morphotype: the Late Miocene cetotheriid, *Piscobalaena nana*, from the
Pisco Formation of Peru. The baleen plates of *P. nana* are closely spaced
and built around relatively dense, fine tubules, as in the enigmatic pygmy
right whale, *Caperea marginata*. Phosphatisation of the intertubular horn,
but not the tubules themselves, suggests in vivo intertubular
calcification. The size of the rack matches the distribution of nutrient
foramina on the palate, and implies the presence of an unusually large
subrostral gap. Overall, the baleen morphology of *Piscobalaena* likely
reflects the interacting effects of size, function and phylogeny, and
reveals a previously unknown degree of complexity in modern mysticete
feeding evolution.

Kind regards,

Felix Marx

*Felix G. Marx* PhD
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow
*Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium
*Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
*Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Address: School of Biological Sciences, Monash University
18 Innovation Walk, VIC 3800, Australia
Tel. +61 (0)3 9905 1190 (Monash University) or +61 (0)3 8341 7346 (Museum
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