Herodotus Returns

Ancient whale was a dwarf mud-sucker
January 4, 2010, 1:06 am
Filed under: Fossils | Tags: , ,

Twenty-five-million-year-old fossils excavated in Australia show a primitive whale who captured his prey by slurping up mouthfuls of mud.

An ancient dwarf whale unearthed in southeastern Australia captured its prey by slurping up mouthfuls of mud, a new study says.

The fossil whale, thought to be between 25 and 28 million years old, hints that mud sucking might have been a precursor to the filter feeding used by today’s baleen whales.

Many modern whale species use hair-like structures called baleen to filter tiny prey such as krill from seawater. Baleen species include the humpback, the minke, and the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth, the blue whale.

The newfound fossil whale, which measures just nine feet (three meters) long, shares the same distinct jaw and skull structures as today’s baleens.

But the tiny whale also had teeth, said study author Erich Fitzgerald, a paleontologist at Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia

More on mud-slurping whales.


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