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Found 25 results

  1. Hey all, Thought I would share this blog post that has a comprehensive review of all papers in marine mammal paleontology published in 2020. Enjoy! https://coastalpaleo.blogspot.com/2020/12/2020-in-review-advances-in-marine.html
  2. Hey all! Between an ill-timed conference, election month, the pandemic, online teaching, and a few other issues, I was way too stressed out and busy to be on here regularly since October. Also, in mid November we began digging up a small basilosaurid whale in Harleyville, SC - very likely to be the most completely known specimen of the dwarf basilosaurid Chrysocetus, and perhaps the most important basilosaurid discovery in North America of my lifetime. I did manage to write a blog post about our fieldwork, so as an apology for being AWOL and only getting back to identifying cetacean stuff a few months later, I offer this writeup as penance! It feels good to be back in the saddle again. Cheers, Bobby
  3. Hey all, I wrote up some more on our recent paper on the giant dolphin Ankylorhiza (formerly Genus Y) from the Oligocene of South Carolina - this is a bit more interesting as it covers the anatomy, adaptations, feeding ecology, and evolutionary implications of the discovery. Hope you can give it a read! https://coastalpaleo.blogspot.com/2020/08/ankylorhiza-tiedemani-giant-dolphin_9.html
  4. Hey all, Since COVID began and I've had more free time I've been getting back to blogging, and now I'm regretting taking such a hiatus since I started here in Charleston. I've written the first of a 2 or 3 part series of semi-technical blog articles that most here should understand and appreciate on our new study on the giant dolphin Ankylorhiza tiedemani (formerly known as Genus Y). The first post is about the background to our paper, and the second one will be a bit more on the anatomy, feeding behavior, locomotion, and evolutionary implications of Ankylorhiza. Take a read here: https://coastalpaleo.blogspot.com/2020/08/ankylorhiza-tiedemani-giant-dolphin.html
  5. Hey all - in discussing my recent research on the new extinct dolphin Ankylorhiza with science journalists, I was reminded of previous frustrations from earlier discussions with students, museum visitors, fossil collectors, journalists, and even other scientists about the meaning of the words whale, dolphin, and porpoise. Some disagreements were on this forum, others were on facebook fossil groups - the whole notion of "that's not a dolphin tooth that's a whale tooth" or vice versa is plagued by the fact that these terms have multiple established meanings and are imprecise, leading to lots of confusion, to the point where I pretty much have to start every discussion off with "there are two groups of cetaceans living today..." - many, for example, are confused about toothed baleen whales existing if only odontocetes have teeth. One thing I tried was to conduct a twitter poll showing four modern species and asking if people thought they were a whale, dolphin, or porpoise - and the majority was right only half the time: a leaping beaked whale was thought to be a dolphin, and a small dolphin was thought to be a porpoise. I've had so many discussions on here and have had to repeat some of these arguments ad nauseam, so I thought I might as well crystallize my thoughts into a blog post. I hope you enjoy it! http://coastalpaleo.blogspot.com/2020/07/whale-dolphin-or-porpoise-meaningful.html
  6. Hey y'all - we finally re-named "Squalodon" tiedemani, now known as Ankylorhiza tiedemani - a large macropredatory killer whale like dolphin with some implications for the early feeding ecology of odontocetes (toothed/echolocating whales) and convergent evolution of swimming in baleen whales (mysticetes) and odontocetes after their split some ~35-36 million years ago. I've copied our FB post text below so I don't need to re-type it all. Introducing the species formerly known as Genus Y: Ankylorhiza tiedemani! This large dolphin was originally named from a partial but uninformative skull dredged from the Wando River in South Carolina in the 1880s, erroneously placed in the genus Squalodon, and without any age data. Our new skeleton, CCNHM 103, is nearly complete, and demonstrates 1) that it definitely isn’t Squalodon, needing the new genus name Ankylorhiza, and 2) the species is from the Oligocene epoch. The new skeleton was discovered by Mark Havenstein in the ~24 million year old Chandler Bridge Formation near Summerville SC in the mid 1990s. There are two major aspects to this new study, published today in the prestigious journal Current Biology by one of our paleontologists, Dr. Boessenecker, and colleagues (Dr. Morgan Churchill, Dr. Emily Buchholtz, Dr. Brian Beatty, and Dr. Jonathan Geisler). The first and more simple finding is that Ankylorhiza is large and has several adaptations for feeding on large prey: large, thick-rooted teeth, a robust snout, sharp (and occasionally serrated) cutting edges on its teeth, enormous jaw muscles, and a killer whale-like range of neck motion. This evidence all points toward Ankylorhiza being an apex predator, reinvading the niche formerly occupied by predatory basilosaurid whales which died out only 5 million years before the oldest fossils of Ankylorhiza. The second and more surprising aspect is what the skeleton tells us about the evolution of swimming adaptations. Modern baleen whale and echolocating whale skeletons are remarkably similar, and assumed to have remained static since the split between the two groups some 35 million years ago. Indeed, most “whaleontologists” working on early baleen whales and early dolphins are ‘headhunters’ and focus exclusively on skulls. The flipper and vertebrae of Ankylorhiza indicate that many features in modern baleen (mysticetes) and echolocating whales (odontocetes) actually evolved twice, in parallel – we call this convergent evolution. We know this since modern mysticetes and odontocetes share many features– including a remarkably shortened humerus (upper arm bone; still a bit long in Ankylorhiza), lost muscle attachments of the humerus (still present in Ankylorhiza), short blocky finger bones (long/skinny in Ankylorhiza), a narrow tail stock (wide in Ankylorhiza), and more than 23 or so tail vertebrae (fewer than that in Ankylorhiza). These features therefore must have evolved convergently – likely driven by the locking of the elbow joint, forcing the flipper to be used only for steering and all propulsive force to come from the tail. You can read the paper here: https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(20)30828-9 (please email us if you would like a pdf of the paper)
  7. Hi all - I did not have time in January when I normally write these up, but thanks to Covid quarantine I managed to get some time last month and write up a comprehensive review on my blog of every single 2019 paper in marine mammal paleontology. Enjoy! https://coastalpaleo.blogspot.com/2020/05/2019-in-review-advances-in-marine.html
  8. Our Marine Mammal Classification Lab

    This is our 6th-8th grade fossil program. I was not going to start running these until the fall of this year but thanks to an awesome donation and a few identifications from @Boesse , I am going to do a few with these with displaced students from Paradise really soon. They need creative education and I need a few opportunities to do the lab and make tweaks. I am super excited and extremely nervous about this lab. Marine mammals are so well adapted to an aquatic life that they really present a great opportunity for presenting complex scientific concepts to kids. The difficulty in using fossils is that I lack the expertise to be able to identify a lot of it but at the same time, I have a number of fossils that are perfect for kids to handle. I do have a basic idea of what fossils I have now so I can start working out a presentation. The first part of the presentation is going to be a quick run down on the basics of classification, using mammals, and the basics of marine mammal biology. We are only discussing two orders of marine mammal, cetacea and carnivora because we only have fossils from those orders. I do have a Desmostylus tusk but I am not going to use that yet. I need a considerable amount more knowledge about that species and its relationship to sirens before I present. We do not have any Odobenidae fossils and I am not sure we ever will. I plan on running down the basic characteristics that separate the two orders. Once we have covered the basics of the two orders, we will discuss the whales in bit more more depth. At each point in the presentation we will present them with fossils that represent the two orders. This is only going to be about 20 minutes. The rest of the time, they will be examining fossils ! Then comes the lab. We will have stations set up that feature some fossils from each order and a visual guide in helping them identify the fossils. Essentially we want them to enjoy checking out the miocene fossils and learning through a hands-on approach. We want them exploring and coming to their own conclusions using the tools they have. The final station will be the students getting a chance to test their abilities by determining if a Cetacean ear bone belongs to an odontoceti or mysticeti type whale. This is the basic outline and I have quite a bit of work to do on this but I really like the potential. I would like to get a few more STH mammal teeth so we have more for the kids to examine and a few more cetacean ear bones as they are diagnostic which is a good thing to have in an education program but overall I feel good about the fossils we have. We have some with identifications but also a few things that are not known which is a good mix. Some of the fossils... Pic 1- a number of different vertebra. There is a shark vert, several cetacean verts and at least one that looks like it might be from carnivora. I have a few more that are not in the picture too. Pic 2- 4 STH Allodesmus teeth, 4 small STH Odontoceti indet teeth ( I will probably suggest Kentriodon to the kids), a STH Aulophyseter tooth, a much different STH Odontoceti indet tooth, and just for fun, a pretty wicked looking sperm whale tooth from North Carolina. This gives the students a chance to visualize the difference between carnivora and cetacea. Pic 3- A few ear bones that will be the final part of the lab. The two STH fossils are the key. One is a mysticeti and the other is an odontoceti. The big one from North Carolina is more for visual flair. It is a big ear bone, the kids will dig it I think. not pictured, the box of bones the kids will handle, the majority of which came via donation.
  9. I hardly dare to ask, ... Here is an online offer from someone without even a single feedback, claiming to offer one of the rarest things there is: a piece of narwhale tusk. Looks like flint or agate to me. maybe good for a laugh?
  10. Hello together, I am interested in all things cetacean, but also sirenians, desmostylia, pinnipedia or maybe marine reptiles. What I can offer are some carpatian cave bear bones including a complete paw of which I dont know if its composite. mammut jaw fragments, big bovine and cervid skull fragments and similar stuff. i could also offer to custom build skeletal models, although I can´t guarantee for quality or fast delivery (depending on what you may want) I also could offer an yet unpainted (or painted, if you wish) resin model of dunkleosteus terelli, bought from dinosaur corporation. If there is anything else you may want for your sea critters, just ask me, there is a lot of fossils that I may be able to part from. Thinking about shipping costs trading in europe would be easier, but as a friend of mine ships a container once a year, there may be a possibility for overseas trade also. Aloha J
  11. Hi all! The Mace Brown Museum of Natural History will have a table in the community center this saturday at the Aurora Fossil Festival. I'm currently trying to write up the marine mammal assemblage from Belgrade Quarry, which appears to be transitional between the upper Oligocene Chandler Bridge Formation here in Charleston and the late early Miocene assemblage from the Pungo River Formation in the Lee Creek Mine. Bring your Belgrade marine mammal specimens to our table, I'd like to see them! Several members of this group and the exceedingly generous North Carolina Fossil Club have already donated a bunch of great specimens including earbones and teeth. Also, I just realized I accidentally left @sixgill pete off of this flyer - thanks to him as well!
  12. 15-million-year-old baby whale fossil reveals ancient breeding grounds. New information about the habits of extinct whales may shed light on the behaviour of their modern relatives, writes Andrew Masterson. https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/15-million-year-old-baby-whale-fossil-reveals-ancient-breeding-grounds Other sources: https://phys.org/news/2017-08-potential-site-miocene-era-baleen.html https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170822092205.htm The paper is: Cheng-Hsiu Tsai. A Miocene breeding ground of an extinct baleen whale ( Cetacea: Mysticeti). PeerJ, 2017; 5: e3711 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3711 https://peerj.com/articles/3711/ Yours, Paul H.
  13. Hey all, On Thursday some colleagues and I published a new archaeocete-like baleen whale from the Oligocene of South Carolina. This is one of the most primitive baleen whales known, and the skull bears many primitive features in common with basilosaurid archaeocetes. We named it Coronodon havensteini - Coronodon refers to the cusps which make a crown-shape, and the species name after Mark Havenstein who collected the specimen. A life restoration I've made of the animals likely gross-looking mouth can be seen below, along with a photograph of the skull. Here's some press releases: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/beast-from-the-past-wando-river-fossil-turns-out-to/article_cd4317c0-5ce5-11e7-965a-274b18c78111.html http://today.cofc.edu/2017/06/29/baleen-whale-fossil-current-biology/ And here's the published article: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(17)30704-2 And if you go to the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History facebook page, there's a video of me on the news last night being interviewed! Edit: our collections manager uploaded the news clip to youtube:
  14. Hey all, Our collections manager and I have had a pretty busy week, and finished the first phase of the installation of the "Cone Whale" - a baleen whale skeleton collected from the Lee Creek Mine by Lee Cone (President of the Special Friends of the Aurora Museum). The specimen is the most complete whale skeleton ever collected from the mine, and was hauled out a few bones at a time over a two week period in Spring 2007. It includes a partial disarticulated cranium with an earbone (petrosal/periotic), left and right mandibles, all cervical vertebrae, most of the thoracics, and possibly a couple of lumbar vertebrae - and about a dozen ribs. The skeleton also has numerous shark bite marks, which just yesterday we marked with a series of red triangular markers. The new exhibit features artwork by yours truly, shark-bitten ribs in a magnifying box, and in the future will also include a number of specimens that the "Cone Whale" was preserved with. The "Cone Whale" shares a number of features in common with rorquals (family Balaenopteridae - the pleat-throated whales, e.g. humpback, fin, blue, minke) and gray whales (family Eschrichtiidae). The two families are closely related, with gray whales possibly being included within the rorquals based on DNA. Fossils like this hold promise to shed light on the early diversification of this group. The "Cone Whale" is a new species and was not represented amongst the fossils described in the Whitmore and Kaltenbach chapter of the Lee Creek IV volume - I've only seen a couple of other earbones of this taxon, so it is safe to say that this is the rarest baleen whale from the mine (and hence, a very lucky find). Lee Cone graciously donated this specimen to our museum in October 2016 and we've been painstakingly caring for it, and attempting to further reassemble fragments of the specimen. Turns out, Lee was nearly exhaustive in his efforts, and we've only been able to match perhaps 10% of the isolated fragments. The entire skeleton is highly fractured because it went through a dragline and was dumped - yet all the bones stayed in approximate position. Many parts were found by bulk screening of sediment. Come see the "Cone Whale" at College of Charleston soon - it opens to the public today for the first time ever! "Like" our page on Facebook or follow us on twitter for more frequent museum news and updates! -Bobby Boessenecker, Ph.D. College of Charleston Charleston, SC
  15. my back hurts

    kompanosteolpatholcetacZM73_099-130.pdf well illustrated
  16. hominid,cetacean,adornment

    nothing needs to be added further koearbonewebtahono.pdf
  17. pliocene vertebra

    hello everyone, I need your help to identify this vertebra. it comes from Italy, in particular from Castell'Arquato, region Emilia-Romagna. this area is famous for cetacea, who lived there when the area was under the sea (in pliocene). can anyone help me?
  18. stranded baleen whales

    non peer-reviewed: baleen Warning:the more sensitive among you might perhaps not like to see whale carcasses hunter gatherer ecology: srep16288.pdf
  19. Hey all, I just finished writing my annual review of the year's publications in marine mammal paleontology - nearly 60 papers this year. http://coastalpaleo.blogspot.com/2017/01/2016-in-review-advances-in-marine.html Cheers, Bobby
  20. New Ear Bone

    Hello I'm not sure if it belongs to a cetacea or a manatee, could someone help me, thanks.
  21. Hi, I am currently writing the manuscript of a field guide to fossil cetaceans, but does anyone have a PDF of the following paper that you can send to me: Whitmore and Kaltenbach, 2008. Neogene Cetacea of the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina. pp. 181-269. In: Ray, Bohaska, Koretsky, Ward, and Barnes (eds.), Geology and Palaeontology of the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina, IV. Virginia Museum of Natural History Special Publication 14.
  22. This a whale cervical vertebra that was given to me 10-12 years ago. It is from the Middle Miocene Sharktooth Hill Bonebed (probably Bob Ernst's old "Whale Quarry" judging by the preservation). You will notice an unusual trough-like depression (perhaps 3-4mm at its deepest) in the bone surface. For years, I thought it was a bite mark though it seemed like a weird one. Then, a couple of years ago, I found this publication: Thomas, H.W., Barnes, L.G., Klein, J.E, and S.A. McLeod. 2008. Examples of paleopathologies in some fossil Cetacea from the North Pacific realm. In Wang, X. and L.G. Barnes (eds.).. Geology and Vertebrate Paleontology of Western and Southern North America. Contributions in Honor of David p. Whistler. Science Series. 41. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. After looking at the various patholigies figured in that article, I think the depression is a pathology. It is too smooth to be a tool mark from the time it was dug out. A force strong enough to leave a mark like that would have shattered the bone of this preservation (rather fragile, ceramic-like quality) to some very noticeable degree. Maybe someone else has seen or studied something similar?