The newest whales

In time-honoured tradition, here are some slides from one of my talks. They're self-explanatory, but let me know if elaboration is required...


Anecdotal data and modelling work suggests that a few more species are yet to come - and more on those at some stage in the future. And if you want references for the new species featured above...

Beasley, I., Robertson, K. M. & Arnold, P. 2005. Description of a new dolphin, the Australian snubfin dolphin Orcaella heinsohni sp. n. (Cetacea, Delphinidae). Marine Mammal Science 21, 365-400.

Dalebout, M. L. 2002., Mead, J. G., Baker, C. S., Baker, A. N. & van Helden, A. L. 2002. A new species of beaked whale Mesoplodon perrini sp. n. (Cetacea: Ziphiidae) discovered through phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Marine Mammal Science 18, 577-608.

- ., Ross, J. B., Baker, C. S., Anderson, R. C., Best, P. B., Cockcroft, V. G., Hinsz, H. L., Peddemors, V., Pitman, P. L. 2003. Appearance, distribution, and genetic distinctiveness of Longman's beaked whale, Indopacetus pacificus. Marine Mammal Science 19, 421-461.

Reyes, J. C., Mead, J. G. & Van Waerebeek, K. 1991. A new species of beaked whale Mesoplodon peruvianus sp. n. (Cetacea: Ziphiidae) from Peru. Marine Mammal Science 7, 1-24.

Wada, S., Oishi, M. & Yamada, T. K. 2003. A newly discovered species of living baleen whale. Nature 426, 278-281.

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I'll root around for the original report and let you know, but my recollection is that it washed up on the Malvides some time round about 2000. You'll note that it has a rather Gambo-esque appearance.

Found it... yes, the carcass is from the Maldives and dates to 2000. The photo was taken by R. Charles Anderson and was published in...

Anderson, C. 2004. Rare whale surfaces. BBC Wildlife 22 (1), 25.

Refresh my memory - which one out of the Peruvian and Perrin's Beaked Whales has been identified as synonymous with the long-unidentified Mesoplodon sp. A?

By Dave Howlett (not verified) on 10 Jul 2009 #permalink

The Peruvian beaked whale (aka Lesser beaked whale) is the same thing as 'Mesoplodon sp. A', and as a consequence some authors have suggested yet another common name this this species: Bandolero beaked whale.

Thanks for an interesting piece on newly discovered whales. We currently have an excellent traveling exhibit called "Whales Tahora" from the TePapa Museum in New Zealand here in Wichita, Kansas (of all places!). The exhibit features a number of skulls of beaked whales... most of which are rare (and certainly new to me!). I have had the opportunity to be the 'conservator' while the exhibit is here:

Darren, and how about "poggy" from Sea of Okhotsk? I can translate the parts of Zenkovich's book mentioned here once upon a time. According this book, "poggy" is described as a separate species of right whales.

Is there any inside if these are species that science just missed, or are these new species appearing, e. g. by filling niches recently vacated by other extinct/greatly reduced species?

Thanks Darren! So I have seen this whale before - for some reason it looks a lot darker in the Dalebout et al. 2003 photos so I guess either it faded significantly at some point or I'm not looking at things correctly.

Such a shame that whale exhibit is half a continent away, I'll have to wait till next near to see five beaked whale skulls in the same place.

looking forward to the discovery of additional Toothed Whale species. in the interim pls put an end to all whaling.

By Bob Michaels (not verified) on 11 Jul 2009 #permalink

I question "cetaceans" as a group. Has anyone every done any genetic mapping to determine age of diversion? We know chimps split between 4 to 6 million years ago (at last I heard). Have we done this type of analysis for whales? Or do we have more than one clad made this move back to water independently (other than seals such as). i.e. How many terrestrial mammal taxon went back to the ocean? Does any one know? Just curious.

There is no doubt that cetaceans are monophyletic. They exhibit a long list of morphological and molecular characters that are not present in other mammals.

You may be interested to know, however, the cetacean diphyly or even polyphyly has been suggested in the past.

Mu: These specimens are certainly from species that have existed for a long time. It's possible that they have moved into new ranges that were vacated recently. More likely we just don't know very much about sea life. Other species must have been driven to extinction before they were ever described, and there are very likely more still out there not yet noted.

People have remarked on the disappearance of sea lions from the San Francisco piers where they used to make so much noise, but I spotted one out in the bay today.

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 11 Jul 2009 #permalink

Thanks Darren, if anyone would know, it should be you. Is there a tree showing diversity splits? I study fossil reptiles usually, do not as well on mammals other than primates.

cetacean diphyly or even polyphyly has been suggested

Likewise in bats. Last I heard the chiroptera had been pulled back together too, even mooshing together what had always been thought of as separate sub-orders. (Real biologists don't get to say "mooshing" when they're talking about sub-orders.)

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 12 Jul 2009 #permalink

As to your question Ed Pardo: Odontocetes and Mysticetes split from one another about 34 Mya--Cetaceans split from the ancestors of Hippopotamidae--their closest living relatives at least before 53 Mya.