Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Oceanic dolphin/whale fossil discovery along our coast

San Francisco Chronicle/Science/David Perlman, 9/8/13.  "Fossil hunters in Santa Cruz make whale of a find." 

....  Two of those amateurs recently passed on a few of their trophies to Robert W. Boessenecker - known as Bobby to his surfing friends in Capitola - who is now a 27-year-old paleontology graduate student in New Zealand. 

Long-finned pilot whale
False killer whale
.....  Evolutionary ancestors.  He and two colleagues have just published a scientific report on the fossil discoveries: a primitive whale skull and two ear bones from two members of the dolphin family that swam in the sea some 5 million years ago and appear to have shared the features of modern whale species. The ancient animals might well have been the common evolutionary ancestors of their modern descendants, Boessenecker believes.
....  Fossil-rich area....  It's a series of fossil-rich sandstone outcrops along the coast, from Point Reyes to the Santa Cruz area, that were thrust upward by earthquakes some 7 million to about 2.6 million years ago, when the Pacific Ocean reached into what is now the Central Valley.

"The fossil skull shares features with both pilot whales and false killer whales and may be the common ancestor to both," Boessenecker reported. "They probably would have lived in environments like the modern California shelf and Monterey Bay of the Purisima Formation."   Read Article.

Related - Coastal Paleontologist (down under) Robert Boessenecker, "Recent fieldwork in the Purisima Formation, part 3:  mysticete earbones and wildlife.", 9/1/11.  "I am a Ph.D. student in the Geology program at the University of Otago, New Zealand, working with R. Ewan Fordyce on Oligocene fossil cetaceans from the South Island. My dissertation research focuses on eomysticetid baleen whales (the earliest known toothless baleen whales), and my project will involve description, phylogenetic analysis, and assessing their feeding ecology. I received my master's degree in May 2011 from Montana State University, where I studied the taphonomy of late Neogene marine vertebrates from the Purisima Formation of Northern California. I am currently involved in studying fossil marine mammals from the Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene of California and Oregon, and am a Research Associate of the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UC Berkeley)."

Related Southwest fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries Science Center, Pilot and False-Killer Whales."   Sea World You Tube, 3:22 minutes.  Note photographs:  Mediterranean long-finned pilot whale from Cetacean Alliance Organization,Tethys Research Institute; False-Killer whale from Cascadia Research Organization, Hawaii.

Fix Pacifica fossil find reprint related - Ian Butler finds mammoth bones in Pacifica, 10/24/11.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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