Records of aquatic mammal fossils (e.g. cetaceans, pinnipeds, sirenians, mustelids, and desmostylians) from Latin America (Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, including Antartica) span since the mid-1800s. Aquatic mammal fossils received little attention from the scientific community, with most of the first studies conducted by Northern Hemisphere researchers. Over the last 30 years, paleontological research in Latin America has increased considerably, with descriptions of several new species and revisions of published original records. The Latin American fossil record of marine mammals spans from the Eocene to the Pleistocene, with formations and specimens of global significance. All three main groups of cetaceans are represented in the continent (Archaeoceti, Mysticeti, and Odontoceti). Pinnipedia are represented by the families Otariidae and Phocidae, with records starting in the Middle Miocene. Both living families of Sirenia (Trichechidae and Dugongidae) are recorded. While less common, but still relevant, records of desmostylians and mustelids are known from Oligocene and Miocene deposits. This review provides a summary of the aquatic mammals known to date, with a special focus on the advances and developments of the last 30 years, since Cozzuol’s (1996) review of the South American fossil record. An up-to-date complete list of species based on the literature and unpublished data is also provided. The study also provides future directions for paleontological research in Latin America, and discusses the challenges and opportunities in the field, including the emergence of a strong new generation of Latin American researchers, many of whom are women.
Bioapatite of fossil bone and teeth is susceptible to alteration and ion exchange during burial and diagenesis, varying its Sr content through the geological time. Nevertheless, fossil shark teeth are a powerful proxy for both chronostratigraphic and paleoecological reconstructions, thanks to the presence of the enameloid, a hard outer layer consisting of resistant fluorapatite crystallites. Here, we analyze fossil shark teeth from the Miocene sediments of the Chilcatay Formation of the Pisco Basin (southwestern Peru) with the aim of dating poorly constrained strata in this region. (Ultra)structural and compositional analyses of fossil lamniform and carcharhiniform teeth are performed through macroscopical observations, optical microscopy and SEM-EDS for evaluating the preservation state of the collected teeth. Shark teeth display a compact and well preserved outer enameloid layer formed by highly ordered bundles of crystallites that is distinctly separated by a more porous and heterogeneous inner core of dentine featuring diagenetic artefacts and microborings. Compositional mapping highlights differences in the distribution of Ca, P, F, and S in the enameloid and dentine, and chemical results show a Sr content that is consistent with the range reported for extant shark teeth. The best preserved teeth were selected for Strontium Isotope Stratigraphy (SIS), measuring the 87Sr/86Sr values in the enameloid and obtaining numerical (absolute) age estimates. In the Ica River Valley, SIS dates the Chilcatay strata to the Burdigalian (between 19.1 and 18.1 Ma), in agreement with previous radiometric, isotopic and biostratigraphic ages obtained in the same region. At Media Luna, the Chilcatay strata are dated herein for the first time, resulting in a slightly older age of 21.8–20.1 Ma (late Aquitanian–early Burdigalian). These results strengthen the notion that the Sr-ratio of shark teeth can be successfully applied for obtaining reliable age estimates via SIS.
Shark–cetacean trophic interactions, preserved as bite marks in the fossil record, mostly correspond to isolated or fragmentary findings that bear limited information about major trophic patterns or roles. Here, we provide evidence of focalized foraging by sharks in the form of tooth bite marks over physeteroids fossil bones from the late Miocene of Peru. These findings indicate that sharks were targeting the forehead of coeval physeteroids to actively feed on their lipid-rich nasal complexes. Miocene physeteroids displayed a broad diversity, including giant predatorial forms, small benthic foragers and suction feeders. Like their extant relatives, these animals exhibited enlarged fatty forehead organs responsible for their sound production capabilities, thus evolving taxon-specific cranial architecture. Bite marks are found on the cranial bones where these structures were attached, indicating that sharks actively targeted this region; but also, in areas that would only be accessible following the consumption of the surrounding soft tissues. The shape of the bite marks and their distribution suggests a series of consecutive scavenging events by individuals of different shark species. Similar bite patterns can be recognized on other Miocene physeteroids fossils from across the globe, suggesting that sharks actively exploited physeteroid carcasses as fat sources.
Archaebalaenoptera eusebioi is a new late Miocene (Tortonian) balaenopterid species from the Aguada de Lomas locality in the Pisco Formation, Peru. It is dated to 8.85–7.93 Ma and is represented by a nearly complete skull with cervical vertebrae. Its inferred body length and mass are respectively c. 7 m and 7–11 tonnes. Archaebalaenoptera eusebioi is characterized by a short and wide rostrum, outward bowed dentary with typical balaenopterid characters in the posterior portion (posteriorly faced articular surface of the mandibular condyle, comparatively long distance between condyle and coronoid process, vestigial postcoronoid crest and fossa) and wide temporal fossa with scarcely protruding temporal crest and posteriorly placed posterior apex of nuchal crest. Its morphology suggests that it fed similarly to the modern balaenopterid whales but with a comparatively wider gape and, possibly, with a limited number of ventral throat grooves. Palaeobiogeographical analysis shows that Archaebalaenoptera originated in the North Atlantic and the invasion of South Pacific and Mediterranean occurred by subsequent dispersal events. Our results suggest that the North Atlantic acted as a centre of origin for many balaenopterid radiations and as a starting basin for recurrent invasions of other oceanic basins.
The file includes character list, character x taxon matrix, data about mandibular measurements and paleobiogeographic analysis of the paper on Archaebalaenoptera eusebioi.
Among the many hyper-longirostrine dolphins (Odontoceti) from the Miocene, members of the family Eurhinodelphinidae bear two highly distinctive cranial features: a long and edentulous premaxillary portion of the rostrum and a mandible that is significantly shorter than the rostrum. Until now, unambiguously attributed members of this clade were only recorded from early to middle Miocene deposits of the North Atlantic realm (east coast U.S.A., North Sea Basin, and Mediterranean). In this work we describe and compare two partial skulls of longi-rostrine dolphins from late early Miocene (Burdigalian, 19.25-18 Ma) marine deposits of the Chilcatay Formation, in the East Pisco Basin (southern coast of Peru), preserving rostral and mandibular material, as well as ear bones. Based on these specimens we report diagnostic remains attributable to this family for the first time for the whole Southern Hemisphere and the whole Pacific Ocean. This major expansion of eurhinodelphinids' palaeogeographic distribution contrasts with their proposed shallow-water, coastal environments; it suggests a new dispersal route for members of the family across the Central American Seaway; and it further highlights the similarities between the odontocete faunas of the southeastern Pacific and North Atlantic realm during the Miocene. Better-preserved eurhinodelphinid specimens from the odontocete-rich Chilcatay Formation will allow for a more detailed comparison with North Atlantic members of the family.
Facial compartmentalization in the skull of extant pygmy whales (Kogiidae) is a unique feature among cetaceans that allows for the housing of a wide array of organs responsible for echolocation. Recent fossil findings indicate a remarkable disparity of the facial bone organization in Miocene kogiids, but the significance of such a rearrangement for the evolution of the clade has been barely explored. Here we describe Kogia danomurai sp. nov., a late Miocene (c. 5.8 Ma) taxon from the Pisco Formation (Peru), based on a partially preserved skull with a new facial bone pattern. Phylogenetic analysis recovers K. danomurai as the most basal representative of the extant genus Kogia, displaying a combination of derived (incipiently developed and excavated sagittal facial crest) and plesiomorphic features (high position of the temporal fossa, and antorbital notch not transformed into a narrow slit). Furthermore, when compared with the extant Kogia, the facial patterning found in K. danomurai indicates differential development among the facial organs, implying different capabilities of sound production relative to extant Kogia spp. Different facial bone patterns are particularly notable within the multi-species kogiid assemblage of the Pisco Formation, which suggests causal connections between different patterns and feeding ecologies (e.g. nekton piscivory and benthic foraging). At c. 5.8 Ma, K. danomurai was part of a cetacean community composed of clades typical of the late Miocene, and of other early representatives of extant taxa, a mixture probably representing an initial shift of the coastal faunas toward the ecosystem dynamics of the present-day southeastern Pacific.
Los cachalotes (Physeteroidea) son un grupo de cetáceos con una ecología restringida en la actualidad. Las tres especies actuales son el remanente de un grupo que alcanzó su máxima diversificacion durante el Mioceno, incluyendo cinco especies simpátricas descritas en la Formación Pisco, Ica-Arequipa, Perú. Entre estas se incluyen formas piscívoras, bénticas, así como carnívoros de tamaño medio e hipercarnívoros. Se reportan dos dientes aislados provenientes del Mioceno superior de las localidades de Sacaco y Sacaco sur, que corresponden con la morfología típica de Physeteridae. Esta morfología dentaria es similar a la de taxones presentes en el hemisferio norte como Orycterocetus o Aulophyseter del Mioceno medio. Debido a esto se presume que los restos corresponderían a physetéridos con hábitos piscívoros, que quizás poseyeron un desarrollo incipiente de la capacidad de succión. La presencia de este linaje indicaría que a fines del Mioceno los parientes de los modernos Physeter y Kogia compartieron el mar peruano con formas extintas, sin solapamiento de nichos debido a la morfología altamente derivada de cada grupo. Este nuevo registro expande la comunidad de cetáceos fósiles de Sacaco, que se vio favorecida por la gran diversidad de ambientes poco profundos que dominaron el litoral peruano hasta el establecimiento final del Sistema Humboldt.
We report 130 vertebrate fossils preserved as bony elements and the co-occurring assemblage of fish teeth and spines from the lower strata of the Pisco Formation exposed along the western side of the lower Ica Valley (East Pisco Basin, Peru). Geological mapping at 1:10,000 scale reveals that all these fossils originate from the Langhian–Serravallian P0 allomember. In the study area, P0 is up to ∼40 m thick and features a sandy lower portion, reflecting shoreface deposition, that fines upwards into a package of offshore silts. Marine vertebrates only occur in the lower sandy layers and include whales, dolphins, reptiles, birds, and bony and cartilaginous fishes. The reconstructed paleoenvironment is consistent with a warm-water, marginalmarine setting with a strong connection to the open ocean. This work helps to elucidate the rich yet still poorly understood middle Miocene portions of the Pisco Formation, and highlights the need to conserve this outstanding Fossil-Lagerstätte.
Nowadays, the odontocete family Kogiidae is monotypic and only includes two species of diminutive relatives of the great sperm whale Physeter Linnaeus, 1758. Conversely, a growing body of extinct species indicates that kogiids were diverse and disparate during the late Neogene. The fossil record of Kogiidae is, to date, represented by several cranial specimens from Mio-Pliocene localities of the Northern Hemisphere, with the significant Southern Hemisphere exception of the Pisco Formation of Peru, from which two genera were known so far, including Scaphokogia Muizon, 1988, a highly idiosyncratic form characterised by a distinctly spoon-shaped dorsal surface of the neurocranium and a downturned semicylindrical rostrum, which is even placed in its own subfamily Scaphokogiinae. Here, we report on two skulls of Kogiidae from the Messinian (upper Miocene) portion of the Pisco Formation exposed in the East Pisco Basin. These two skulls are referred to the new taxon Platyscaphokogia landinii n. gen., n. sp., which our phylogenetic analysis recovers as sister group of Scaphokogia, within the subfamily Scaphokogiinae. Although Platyscaphokogia n. gen. shares with Scaphokogia a remarkably spoon-like dorsal aspect of the neurocranium, it retains a non-pachyostotic, dorsoventrally thin rostrum that distinctly points anteriorly; as such, Platyscaphokogia n. gen. might be regarded as testifying an early stage in the evolution of the scaphokogiine cranial anatomy. Morphofunctional and palaeoecological considerations allow for hypothesising that Platyscaphokogia n. gen. was a raptorial physeteroid that foraged along the water column in relatively open-sea palaeoenvironments. In conclusion, our finds expand the palaeodiversity of Kogiidae, as well as our knowledge on the late Miocene sperm whales of the southeastern Pacific, and further suggest that the fossil content of the East Pisco Basin is crucial for reconstructing the Neogene evolutionary history of physeteroids.
The modern sperm whales Kogia and Physeter (superfamily Physeteroidea) represent highly disparate, relict members of a group of odontocetes that peaked in diversity during the middle to late Miocene. Based on a highly informative specimen (including the cranium with ear bones, mandibles, teeth and some postcranial elements) from the lower Miocene (early Burdigalian, 19–18 Ma) of the Chilcatay Formation (Pisco Basin, Peru), we describe here a new genus and species of physeteroid, Rhaphicetus valenciae gen. et sp. nov. The latter is one of the geologically oldest physeteroids. This medium-sized species (estimated body length between 4.7 and 5.7 m) differs from all other physeteroids by the following, probably autapomorphic, features: a narrow, cylindrical rostrum comprising nearly 75% of the condylobasal length; the two main dorsal infraorbital foramina located posterior to the antorbital notch; an upper tooth count of at least 36 teeth per quadrant; and anterior-most upper alveoli filled by thick bony pads. Our phylogenetic analysis recovers R. valenciae as one of the earliest branching stem physeteroids. The highly unusual filling of the anterior upper alveoli by bony pads is interpreted as part of a mechanism leading to the loss of apical and subapical upper teeth. By comparison with other odontocetes displaying some degree of anterior reduction of the dentition, this condition may have corresponded to the rostrum being anteriorly longer than the mandible. The elongated rostrum with a circular cross-section, the long temporal fossa, and the high number of slender, pointed upper and lower teeth all suggest that R. valenciae used its dentition to grasp relatively small prey, possibly via rapid movements of the head. On the one hand, this new Peruvian record increases our knowledge of the morphological disparity of sperm whales during the Miocene. On the other hand, it may provide clues to the ancestral morphotype for all physeteroids. http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:3E1CEFC8-0F23-416E-9C02-03750D7199BA
The moderately rich past diversity of the superfamily Inioidea (Cetacea, Odontoceti) in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans contrasts with the present survival of a single genus (Inia, Amazon river dolphin, family Iniidae) in freshwater deposits of South America and of a single species (Pontoporia blainvillei, franciscana, family Pontoporiidae) along the eastern coast of that continent. However, part of the late Miocene – Pliocene inioid fossil record consists of relatively fragmentarily known species, for which systematic affinities remain poorly understood. Based on a sample of six cranial specimens from lower upper Miocene (Tortonian, 9.5–8.6 Ma) marine deposits of the Pisco Formation exposed at four localities of the East Pisco Basin (southern coast of Peru), we describe a new genus and species of inioid, Samaydelphis chacaltanae. This mesorostrine, small‐sized species is characterized by an upper tooth count of c. 30 teeth per row, a moderately elevated vertex of the cranium displaying a long anteromedial projection of the frontals and interparietal, and the plesiomorphic retention of a premaxilla–nasal contact. Recovered as a member of the family Pontoporiidae in our phylogenetic analysis, S. chacaltanae falls as sister group to Meherrinia isoni, from the upper Miocene of North Carolina (USA), which has previously been tentatively referred to the Iniidae or regarded as a stem Inioidea. Originating from the P1 allomember of the Pisco Formation, the mesorostrine S. chacaltanae was contemporaneous and sympatric with two other inioids, the brevirostrine pontoporiid Brachydelphis mazeasi and the longirostrine iniid Brujadelphis ankylorostris.
We seek to elucidate the Cenozoic history of the upwelling system off Peru-Chile, which currently forms the basis for one of the most productive fisheries in the world. To pursue this aim, we investigate the outstanding record of Eocene–Pliocene sedimentation and associated marine fossils in the East Pisco Basin of southern Peru, where the lower Miocene Chilcatay Formation is overlain by the Pisco Formation, the latter containing three allomembers, each reflecting a transgressive cycle: P0, P1 and P2, in ascending stratigraphic order. The Chilcatay Formation and the overlying middle Miocene P0 allomember (based on our recent strontium isotope stratigraphy) are comprised of lithologies (sandstones and siltstones) that suggest a limited upwelling. Furthermore, a warm-water palaeoenvironment is indicated by the thermophilic fossil assemblage in these units, including mollusks (architectonicids, cypraeids, and the genus Ficus), the only coral colony known from the basin (a rhizangiid scleractinian from P0), and the extinct snaggletooth shark Hemipristis serra. The overlying P1 and P2 allomembers are late Miocene in age and are characterized by abundant diatomites that suggest high primary productivity conditions. The present-day Peruvian coastal upwelling system results from a combination of the Peru Coastal Current and the offshore Humboldt Current. A precursor of this upwelling system emerged after the K/Pg boundary, and a proto-Humboldt Current originated only in the late Eocene. The Miocene transition in the East Pisco Basin from warm-water conditions to high-productivity and cooler conditions shows that there was a strengthening of the Humboldt Current during the late Miocene.
Thalassocnus is a genus of “ground sloths” known from Neogene deposits, for the great majority of specimens, of the Pisco Formation (Peru). Five species are recognized, their description being currently restricted, for the most part, to the skull, mandible, and dentition. The bones of the forelimb are here described, and compared among the species of Thalassocnus and to other pilosans. The main characteristics of the forelimb of Thalassocnus relative to other sloths are the shortness of the humerus and radius, and the specialized digits. Moreover, the late species of the genus are character- ized by the development of the pronator ridge of the radius, stoutness of the ulna, widening of the proximal carpal row, and shortening of the metacarpals. Analogies with extant tetrapods are proposed in order to infer plausible aquatic functions of the forelimb of Thalassocnus. In addition to paddling, it is argued that the forelimb of Thalassocnus was involved in bottom-walking, a function similarly found in extant sirenians. However, the function of the forelimb of Thalassocnus differs drastically from that of the latter, since it was likely involved in an activity related to obtaining food such as uprooting seagrass rhizomes.
A fossil pygmy right whale (Cetacea, Mysticeti, Neobalaenidae) with exquisitely preserved baleen is described for the first time in the history of cetacean palaeontology, providing a wealth of information about the evolutionary history and palaeobiogeography of Neobalaenidae. This exquisitely preserved specimen is assigned to a new genus and species, Miocaperea pulchra gen. et sp. nov., and differs from Caperea marginata Gray, 1846, the only living taxon currently assigned to Neobalaenidae, in details of the temporal fossa and basicranium. A thorough comparative analysis of the skeleton of M. pulchra gen. et sp. nov. and C. marginata is also provided, and forms the basis of an extensive osteology-based phylogenetic analysis, confirming the placement of M. pulchra gen. et sp. nov. within Neobalaenidae as well as the monophyly of Neobalaenidae and Balaenidae; the phylogenetic results support the validity of the superfamily Balaenoidea. No relationship with Balaenopteroidea was found by the present study, and thus the balaenopterid-like morphological features observed in C. marginata must have resulted from parallel evolution. The presence of M. pulchra gen. et sp. nov. around 2000 km north from the northernmost sightings of C. marginata suggests that different ecological conditions were able to support pygmy right whale populations in what is now Peru, and that subsequent environmental change caused a southern shift in the distribution of the living neobalaenid whales. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 166, 876–911.
The modern pygmy and dwarf sperm whales (Physeteroidea, Kogiidae) are remnants of a highly diverse group, which flourished in the Miocene oceans. Unlike their modern suction-feeding, deep-diving relatives, the past diversity of this family includes animals with disparate ecological habits. Here, we describe Scaphokogia totajpe, sp. nov., a new species of kogiid based on a well-preserved skull from the upper Miocene strata of the Pisco Formation, Peru. A phylogenetic analysis places S. totajpe as sister taxon of S. cochlearis and divides Kogiidae into two clades: the first including both species of Scaphokogia and the second including Kogia, Koristocetus, Praekogia, and Nanokogia. Similar to S. cochlearis, S. totajpe has a tubular rostrum with a hypertrophied mesorostral canal, a large supracranial basin, and a leftward deviated facial sagittal crest, but it differs by possessing a proportionately shorter rostrum, a reduced projection of the lacrimojugal between the frontal and the maxilla, and a flat occipital shield. The cranial morphology of Scaphokogia indicates that the extent of the nasal complex was greater than in modern kogiids. Furthermore, the overall rostrum shape and the reconstructed muscle insertion sites indicate that Scaphokogia retained some plesiomorphic features related to a more generalist ecology. Inclusion of S. totajpe into the context of the Pisco Formation indicates that during the late Miocene, the Peruvian coastal system was a hot spot for the diversification of physeteroids, with at least four species coexisting. Finally, Scaphokogia totajpe highlights a late Miocene diversity peak for sperm whales in the global oceans, before the Pliocene odontocete turnover.
Export Date: 4 July 2013, Source: Scopus, CODEN: NATUA, :doi 10.1038/nature09381, Language of Original Document: English, Correspondence Address: Lambert, O., References: Koch, A., Description of the Missourium or Missouri Leviathan, , 2nd edn (Prentice and Weissinger, 1841);
The modern giant sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus, one of the largest known predators, preys upon cephalopods at great depths. Lacking a functional upper dentition, it relies on suction for catching its prey; in contrast, several smaller Miocene sperm whales (Physeteroidea) have been interpreted as raptorial (versus suction) feeders, analogous to the modern killer whale Orcinus orca. Whereas very large physeteroid teeth have been discovered in various Miocene localities, associated diagnostic cranial remains have not been found so far. Here we report the discovery of a new giant sperm whale from the Middle Miocene of Peru (approximately 12-13 million years ago), Leviathan melvillei, described on the basis of a skull with teeth and mandible. With a 3-m-long head, very large upper and lower teeth (maximum diameter and length of 12cm and greater than 36cm, respectively), robust jaws and a temporal fossa considerably larger than in Physeter, this stem physeteroid represents one of the largest raptorial predators and, to our knowledge, the biggest tetrapod bite ever found. The appearance of gigantic raptorial sperm whales in the fossil record coincides with a phase of diversification and size-range increase of the baleen-bearing mysticetes in the Miocene. We propose that Leviathan fed mostly on high-energy content medium-size baleen whales. As a top predator, together with the contemporaneous giant shark Carcharocles megalodon, it probably had a profound impact on the structuring of Miocene marine communities. The development of a vast supracranial basin in Leviathan, extending on the rostrum as in Physeter, might indicate the presence of an enlarged spermaceti organ in the former that is not associated with deep diving or obligatory suction feeding.
Thalassocnus antiquus, sp. nov., is a marine nothrothere from the late Miocene Aguada de Lomas vertebrate horizon (ca. 7 to 8 Ma) of the Pisco Formation in the Sacaco area of the southern coast of Peru. It is similar to the slightly younger latest Miocene Thalassocnus natans, but smaller and distinctly more gracile. The sloping morphology of the lateral border of the nares in T. antiquus differs from the probably plesiomorphic subvertical edge of the nares in T. natans. Parsimony analysis does not resolve the relative positions of T. antiquus and T. natans, and, therefore, does not fully confirm the possibility of a single Thalassocnus lineage, which spans over 4 Ma. However, Thalassocnus is an endemic genus and the stratigraphic distribution of its four species is well known. Furthermore, some characters indicate a continuous evolution from the oldest (T. antiquus) to the youngest species (T. carolomartini). Therefore, we prefer the hypothesis of a single Thalassocnus lineage, although a more complex evolutionary scenario is not discarded.