The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, October 21, 2017


Fossil finds reveal plot twist in Australian whale tale
Dr Felix Marx and Dr Erich Fitzgerald with pgymy right whale specimen from Museums Victoria's Collection. Photo: Museums Victoria.


MELBOURNE.- Scientists have been astonished to discover that a whale believed to be confined to the southern hemisphere once lived off the coast of Japan and Italy.

Considered one of the most mysterious living species of whale, the pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata) is now only found in the Southern Ocean, around southern Australia, New Zealand and South America.

But fossils of pygmy right whales have just been identified in the Northern Hemisphere – in Okinawa (Japan) and Sicily (Italy).

These unexpected discoveries, published today in the prestigious scientific journal Current Biology, suggest a significant chapter in this whale’s evolutionary history took place in the Northern Hemisphere, and points to the potentially huge impact climate change could have on today’s whales.

The discovery has been made by an international team of palaeontologists from three continents including Dr Erich Fitzgerald, Senior Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at Museums Victoria and Dr Felix Marx, Research Associate at Museums Victoria and Monash University.

As Dr. Erich Fitzgerald said that discovery was important because of its environmental implications:

“These findings are the first to show that pygmy right whales – as endemic to southern waters as koalas are to Australia – had ancient relatives in the Northern Hemisphere. They provide new insights into how climate change has profoundly impacted the distribution of whales throughout the Earth’s oceans over millennia, and also point to how living species may be impacted by climate change, now with an added human dimension, in the future.”

The pygmy right whale is the most bizarre living whale species – it is the smallest, it has strange overlapping ribs not seen in other marine mammals, and virtually nothing is known about its biology and behaviour. In effect, it’s the platypus of whales.

What we do know about its evolution has been garnered from a handful of just three fossils - including one in Museums Victoria’s collection – which are between 3 and 8 million years older than these.

The Japanese fossil, consisting of part of a skull, is between 500,000 and 1 million years old, while the Italian fossil, an ear bone, is between 1.7 and 1.9 million years old. The anatomy of these fossils is so similar to bones of the living pygmy right whale it suggests they could be the same species.

So what caused the pygmy right whale to migrate north?

The finding suggests that global cooling during the Pleistocene (The geological epoch which lasted from 2.6 million to 12,000 years ago and saw a period of repeated glaciations, commonly known as the Ice Age), which saw the growth of vast polar ice sheets in both hemispheres, forced pygmy right whales north and eventually helped them to spread across the equator. Then, as the glaciers naturally receded over millennia, the habitat of pygmy right whales once again shifted southwards, to where they live today. Warming of the climate made the equator increasingly difficult to cross, so remaining pygmy right whales in the Northern Hemisphere eventually became extinct.

Dr Felix Marx added that this points to the potential huge impact of ongoing climate change on today’s whales, “The natural changes to the Earth’s climate, now has an added human element, that may drive a reorganization of the current dispersal of whales and marine mammals. For example, a warmer world may see the pygmy right whales driven further south towards the pole.”

The finding also raises the possibility of fossils of other marine fauna, such as southern walruses and northern penguins, being found in the Northern Hemisphere. However, at the moment the true extent of such occurrences is obscured by the globally poor Pleistocene fossil record.

As Dr Erich Fitzgerald explains, this unexpected finding has created even more curiosity into the story of the pygmy right whale: “These fossil finds out of left-field may be just the first step towards uncovering a much more expansive and complex evolutionary history for the pygmy right whale.”

The paper ‘Northern pygmy right whales highlight Quaternary marine mammal interchange’ is authored by an international team of scientists including Erich Fitzgerald and Felix Marx, and has been published in Current Biology.






Today's News

October 11, 2017

Last privately-owned painting by Leonardo Da Vinci to go on sale for $100 million

Exceptional exhibition devoted to the unrivaled collection of the Museum of Modern Art opens in Paris

Fossil finds reveal plot twist in Australian whale tale

Skarstedt opens an exhibition of Willem de Kooning's late paintings

Ancient pools near Jerusalem set for renovation

Artcurial to auction off a large selection of original works by comic book artists

Property from the Blitz Collection headlines Sotheby's Prints & Multiples New York auction

Frieze London 2017: 15th edition sees strong sales, ambitious presentations, and robust institutional support

Jewels worn by Vivien Leigh in 'Gone with the Wind' and other films for sale with Julien's Auctions

Exhibition at Ordovas combines Pop Art masterpieces with Gufram’s iconic Cactus

Exhibition explores the multifaceted meanings of hunting and fishing in both painting and sculpture

°CLAIR Gallery opens exhibition of photographs by David "CHIM" Seymour

The Astrup Fearnley Museet opens a solo exhibition by the Norwegian artist Matias Faldbakken

University of the Arts announces Irvin Borowsky International Prize in Glass Arts winner

Solo exhibition of art works by Oksana Mas opens at Museo MA*GA

Germany's greatest design icons are celebrated in major exhibition in Doha

DeCordova presents a colorful look at the intersections of television, psychedelia, and visual art

Rebecca Ackroyd produces installation that responds to the architecture of Zabludowicz Collection

TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art opens exhibition of works by Grupa Budapeszt

Lark Mason Associates achieves stunning results for Chinese snuff bottles and small treasures

Dale Chihuly sculptural glass installation to grace the foyer of the Lowe Art Museum

Anita Rogers Gallery opens an exhibition of drawings by four artists

Smithsonian documents television history with Telemundo objects, photos and oral histories

Nicolas Grenier's first solo exhibition at Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran opens in Montreal

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- $37.7 million bowl sets Chinese ceramic auction record at Sotheby's Hong Kong

2.- Major new show at Picasso Museum focuses on pivotal year in Picasso's life and work

3.- 63 Dutch Masters return home to Holland for an exhibition at the Hermitage Amsterdam

4.- Exhibition reveals new insights into Renoir's celebrated "Luncheon of the Boating Party"

5.- Nazi-looted Pissarro painting at centre of legal tussle

6.- The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art presents 'Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt's Etchings'

7.- Pristine Hermès Himalayan Gris Cendre Birkin bag sells for $112,500 at Heritage Auctions

8.- Tom Petty, heartland rocker with dark streak, dead at 66

9.- Exhibition presenting the art of Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dalí opens in London

10.- Private collectors using online appraisal platform to get multiple estimates from top auction houses



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful