A whale over time

26 May 2016

A new study published recently in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology confirms that baleen whales were part of the biodiversity along the South African coast at least 5 million years ago.

The research focused on fossilised whale bones recovered from the Langebaanweg fossil locality (better known as the West Coast Fossil Park) and was conducted by Dr Romala Govender (Iziko Curator of Cenozoic Palaeontology), Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan (UCT palaeobiologist) and Dr Michelangelo Bisconti (whale biologist from the Natural History Museum of San Diego, California).

By studying the distinctive morphology of the whales’ ear bones, the research revealed that these 5-million-year-old bones were very similar to fossil whales from the Mediterranean. It also indicated that they were baleen whales, much like the humpback whales currently found along the South African coast.

Read the media release...

Photo: Humpback whale breaching by Whit Welles, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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