Suction feeding preceded filtering in baleen whale evolution

Felix Marx, David Hocking, Travis Park, Tim Ziegler, Alistair Evans, Eric Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The origin of baleen, the key adaptation of modern whales (Mysticeti), marks a profound yet poorly understood transition in vertebrate evolution, triggering the rise of the largest animals on Earth. Baleen is thought to have appeared in archaic tooth-bearing mysticetes during a transitional phase that combined raptorial feeding with incipient bulk filtering. Here we show that tooth wear in a new Late Oligocene mysticete belonging to the putatively transitional family Aetiocetidae is inconsistent with the presence of baleen, and instead indicative of suction feeding. Our findings suggest that baleen arose much closer to the origin of toothless mysticete whales than previously thought. In addition, they suggest an entirely new evolutionary scenario in which the transition from raptorial to baleen-assisted filter feeding was mediated by suction, thereby avoiding the problem of functional interference between teeth and the baleen rack.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages12
JournalMemoirs of Museum Victoria
Volume75
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Aetiocetidae
  • Baleen whale
  • Filter feeding
  • Mysticeti
  • Suction feeding
  • Tooth wear

Cite this

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Suction feeding preceded filtering in baleen whale evolution. / Marx, Felix; Hocking, David; Park, Travis; Ziegler, Tim; Evans, Alistair; Fitzgerald, Eric.

In: Memoirs of Museum Victoria, Vol. 75, 01.01.2016, p. 71-82.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Hocking, David

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