A teenage surfer in Australia noticed something sticking out of a boulder.
When researcher Erich Fitzgerald began studying the fossil, he soon realized it was an entirely new Family of whale species!
(Image: R Start/Museum Victoria)
From the article:
“Fitzgerald found that the fossil had specific features in the facial region and the base of the skull that marked it as a member of the baleen whale group, which today includes the enormous blue whale.
But unlike modern baleen whales, which eat by filtering tiny krill and plankton from water, the fossil whale had teeth. It also had enormous eyes.
He says it was impossible to fit the fossil whale into existing branches of the evolutionary tree based on its shape, size and characteristics.
“This is something completely new. This was an entirely new family, which is a rare occurrence.”
This new family of small, highly predatory, toothed baleen whales has been named in honour of the town of Jan Juc and its discoverer Staumn Hunder. It is called Janjucetus hunderi.
“…they were truly bizarre, and living in ways completely unlike any baleen whales that have existed over the past 20 million years.”
Find the entire article about these huge-eyed, fanged whales at News in Science.com.