This “dolphin” is the first known ultrasonic predator (apex predator) to locate its prey using ultrasound: in addition to its large size, it also has large sharp pointed fangs, and has The ability to hunt and feast on prey at a high speed like today’s killer whales.
More importantly, this discovery helps us better understand how two modern whales – toothed whales, like dolphins, and baleen whales – like humpback whales – have evolved to shape. to make their characteristics, like flippers or tail.
The skeleton was found in the 1990s, but is misclassified, and is a skeleton Ankylorhiza tiedemani almost the first completed analysis – in the past, the creature could only have been studied from a snout fossil, but now scientists can better understand marine animals. this breast.
Skeleton ankylorhiza tiedemani
One of the key points revealed was that many parts of the skeleton – the skull and tail, the short upper arm bones of the flippers, the shape of the teeth – showed that two modern whales, with teeth and baleen plates, were evolve many of the same characteristics in parallel but independently of each other, instead of inheriting them from the same ancestors as previously thought.
This parallel evolution took place thanks to the similar aquatic environment in which they lived.
“The degree of similarity in swimming-adaptive characteristics that baleen whales and dolphins form independently of each other, instead of evolving from the same ancestors of both groups, has caused them to I am surprised“- paleontologist Robert Boessenecker said.
“Just as additional finger bones appear on the flippers and the elbows are locked, forcing both groups of marine mammals to follow a similar evolutionary path in terms of movement.”
While it may sound obvious that animals in the same evolutionary environment create similar characteristics, that’s not something scientifically confirmed – for example, sea lions and seals. different evolution to form their own swimming regimes, and finally the bone structure behind the skull (whole body except the skull) is very different.
The period when the giant dolphins were an ancient predator ended about 23 million years ago, when they became extinct. Since then, other species of whales and dolphins have appeared to replace them, but today, the only ultrasonic locating whale that is also the top predator is the killer whale.
Part of what makes this new discovery so interesting is that you might not think that the killer whales and modern, cute dolphins have such an intimate relationship – but Ankylorhiza is most likely The ability to hunt and prey very similar to killer whales today, except that it lived tens of millions of years ago.
“Whales and dolphins have a long and complex evolutionary history, and at first glance, you probably won’t realize it in modern species.“- Boessenecker said.”The fossil record really has explored this long and confusing evolutionary path, and fossils like Ankylorhiza will help us understand how it used to work.“.
In the past, it was thought that the whales may have inherited the ability to propel themselves with their tails and turn with their flippers about 35 million years ago, according to Boessenecker.
Many other Ankylorhiza fossils are waiting to be discovered, and researchers hope to make more discoveries.
“So Oligocene was the period when the species that ate through the horns and ultrasonic locator first evolved, and because the habitat of aquatic mammals at that time was worldwide, Fossils discovered by Charleston College will provide the most complete view of the previous evolution of these groups of organisms, providing us with information on unprecedented evolution.“- Boessenecker said.