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Fossils Of Newfound Baleen Whale Gives Insight Into Evolution

Update Date: Dec 03, 2015 02:23 PM EST
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Some fossils of a newly discovered Baleen whale species, the Fucaia buelli, gives insight into the manner in which modern species---such as mighty blue and humpback---evolved special plates. These plates, instead of teeth, enabled them to filter food from water, according to the Daily Mail.

These fossils seem 33 to 31 million years old, dating back to the Oligocene period.

The study was revealed in the Royal Society's Open Science Journal.

Various anatomical structures of its face were studied by paleontologists from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the University of Washington and the University of Otago.

They examined and analysed 17 teeth and fragments from F. buelli's face, looking at its varied range of teeth, including "serrated molars and sharp incisors", and also its ear bones.

The fossils also indicate that the animals were 6.6 feet long.

In the mouth of the baleen whales, you can find the filter system. After opening its mouth, the whale takes in water, pushes the water back out and filters food such as krill, which are required to stay inside the mouth.

Such whales possess teeth only in the embryo, but the teeth in the F. buelli, which is an ancestral species of Baleen whales, might give a clue to scientists to understand the evolution of the filtering system.

"The new species represents one of the smallest [baleens] yet described and thus highlights the rather humble origins of the giants that plough the modern oceans," the study reads. "The new material represents the oldest reported [extinct baleen whale], and, crucially, preserves details of the otherwise poorly known dental, ear bone, hyoid and vertebral morphology characterizing this family."

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