[MARMAM] Fw: New paper on tooth sharpness and the origin of baleen whale filter feeding

Melvin Klassen klassen at uvic.ca
Fri Sep 8 15:22:53 PDT 2017

Re-submission, due to problem with the mailing-list.

From: Felix Marx <felix.marx at monash.edu>
Sent: September 6, 2017 3:25 AM
To: marmam at lists.uvic.ca
Subject: New paper on tooth sharpness and the origin of baleen whale filter feeding

Dear colleagues,

please find below the abstract and link to our recently published paper on tooth sharpness and the origin of filter feeding in archaic baleen whales:

Hocking, D. P., Marx, F. G., Fitzgerald, E. M. G., Evans, A. R. 2017 Ancient whales did not filter feed with their teeth. Biology Letters 13: 20170348.

Link: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/13/8/20170348

Abstract: The origin of baleen whales (Mysticeti), the largest animals on Earth, is closely tied to their signature filter-feeding strategy. Unlike their modern relatives, archaic whales possessed a well-developed, heterodont adult dentition. How these teeth were used, and what role their function and subsequent loss played in the emergence of filter feeding, is an enduring mystery. In particular, it has been suggested that elaborate tooth crowns may have enabled stem mysticetes to filter with their postcanine teeth in a manner analogous to living crabeater and leopard seals, thereby facilitating the transition to baleen-assisted filtering. Here we show that the teeth of archaic mysticetes are as sharp as those of terrestrial carnivorans, raptorial pinnipeds and archaeocetes, and thus were capable of capturing and processing prey. By contrast, the postcanine teeth of leopard and crabeater seals are markedly blunter, and clearly unsuited to raptorial feeding. Our results suggest that mysticetes never passed through a tooth-based filtration phase, and that the use of teeth and baleen in early whales was not functionally connected. Continued selection for tooth sharpness in archaic mysticetes is best explained by a feeding strategy that included both biting and suction, similar to that of most living pinnipeds and, probably, early toothed whales (Odontoceti).

Kind regards,

Felix Marx

Felix G. Marx PhD
Marie Sklodowska-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 Victoria)

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