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Earliest mysticete from Mediterranean basin

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Posted (edited)

Another new extinct mysticete-related paper is available online:


Bisconti, M., Damarco, P., Mao, S., Pavia, M. and Carnevale, G. (2020). The earliest baleen whale from the Mediterranean: large‐scale implications of an early Miocene thalassotherian mysticete from Piedmont, Italy. Papers in Palaeontology doi:10.1002/spp2.1336


Atlanticetus lavei constitutes the oldest fossil mysticete from the Mediterranean Basin, considering that the fossil record of mysticetes from the early-middle Miocene in the Mediterranean basin is very sparse. Note that the authors of this paper make the basal thalassothere "Aglaocetus" patulus the type species of Atlanticetus.* Four nominal thalassothere species from Miocene deposits in the North Sea basin ("Amphicetus" rotundus, "Idiocetus" longifrons, "Mesocetus" latifrons, and "Plesiocetus" burtinii) were referred to Aglaocetus by Steeman (2010) based on some similarities with patulus, but the renaming of patulus as Atlanticetus and the much younger age of burtinii and rotundus raises the question of whether longifrons and latifrons could be similar to Atlanticetus, and whether rotundus and burtinii could constitute an unnamed genus or belong of the existing basal thalassothere genera from the late Miocene.


*Two left tympanic earbones referred to the nominal thalassothere species 'Mesocetus' pinguis are identified by Bisconti and colleagues as similar to the earbones of Atlanticetus patulus and A. lavei, as is the little-known Miocene taxon 'Aulocetus' calaritanus. The presence of duplicate left tympanics in the 'Mesocetus' pinguis hypodigm makes clear than the material assigned to that species comes from more than one individual, and one of the cranial elements of that taxon may have been designated the lectotype.

Edited by DD1991
Realized that type species of Atlanticetus is Aglaocetus patulus, not A. lavei

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