[MARMAM] New Publication: Norrisanima miocaena, a new generic name and redescription of a stem balaenopteroid mysticete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Miocene of California

Matt Leslie matt.s.leslie at gmail.com
Tue Oct 15 06:52:34 PDT 2019


Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am excited to announce the publication of the
following open access article in PeerJ: https://peerj.com/articles/7629/

Norrisanima miocaena: a new generic name and redescription of a stem
balaenopteroid mysticete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Miocene of California

Citation: Leslie MS, Peredo CM, Pyenson ND. 2019. *Norrisanima miocaena*, a
new generic name and redescription of a stem balaenopteroid mysticete
(Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Miocene of California. PeerJ 7:e7629
https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7629

Abstract: Rorqual whales are among the most species rich group of baleen
whales (or mysticetes) alive today, yet the monophyly of the traditional
grouping (i.e., Balaenopteridae) remains unclear. Additionally, many fossil
mysticetes putatively assigned to either Balaenopteridae or
Balaenopteroidea may actually belong to stem lineages, although many of
these fossil taxa suffer from inadequate descriptions of fragmentary
skeletal material. Here we provide a redescription of the holotype of
*Megaptera
miocaena*, a fossil balaenopteroid from the Monterey Formation of
California, which consists of a partial cranium, a fragment of the rostrum,
a single vertebra, and both tympanoperiotics. Kellogg (1922)
<https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?title=Description%20of%20the%20skull%20of%20Megaptera%20miocaena,%20a%20fossil%20humpback%20whale%20from%20the%20Miocene%20diatomaceous%20earth%20of%20Lompoc,%20California&author=Kellogg&publication_year=1922>
assigned the type specimen to the genus *Megaptera* Gray (1846)
<https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?title=On%20the%20cetaceous%20animals&author=Gray&publication_year=1846>,
on the basis of its broad similarities to distinctive traits in the cranium
of extant humpback whales (*Megaptera novaeangliae* (Borowski, 1781
<https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?title=Gemeinn%C3%BCzzige%20Naturgeschichte%20des%20Thierreichs:%20darinn%20die%20merkw%C3%BCrdigsten%20und%20n%C3%BCzlichsten%20Thiere%20in%20systematischer%20Ordnung%20beschrieben%20und%20alle%20Geschlechter%20in%20Abbildungen%20nach%20der%20Natur%20vorgestellet%20warden&author=Borowski&publication_year=1781>)).
Subsequent phylogenetic analyses have found these two species as sister
taxa in morphological datasets alone; the most recent systematic analyses
using both molecular and morphological data sets place *Megaptera miocaena*
as a stem balaenopteroid unrelated to humpback whales. Here, we redescribe
the type specimen of *Megaptera miocaena* in the context of other fossil
balaenopteroids discovered nearly a century since Kellogg’s original
description and provide a morphological basis for discriminating it
from *Megaptera
novaeangliae*. We also provide a new generic name and recombine the taxon
as *Norrisanima miocaena*, gen. nov., to reflect its phylogenetic position
outside of crown Balaenopteroidea, unrelated to extant *Megaptera*. Lastly,
we refine the stratigraphic age of *Norrisanima miocaena*, based on
associated microfossils to a Tortonian age (7.6–7.3 Ma), which carries
implications for understanding the origin of key features associated with
feeding and body size evolution in this group of whales.

Etymology: Combining the surname Norris and the Latin *anima* (breath of
life), the generic name honors the late Dr. Kenneth S. Norris and his son,
Dr. Richard D. Norris, for their contributions to the natural history of
California, marine mammalogy, and evolution in the marine realm.

Sincerely,

Matt

----------
Matthew S. Leslie Ph.D.
Department of Biology
Swarthmore College
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