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A heavyweight early whale pushes the boundaries of vertebrate morphology

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dc.contributor.author Bianucci, Giovanni
dc.contributor.author Lambert, Olivier
dc.contributor.author Urbina, Mario
dc.contributor.author Merella, Marco
dc.contributor.author Collareta, Alberto
dc.contributor.author Bennion, Rebecca
dc.contributor.author Salas Gismondi, Rodolfo Martín
dc.contributor.author Benites-Palomino, Aldo
dc.contributor.author Post, Klaas
dc.contributor.author de Muizon, Christian
dc.contributor.author Bosio, Giulia
dc.contributor.author Di Celma, Claudio
dc.contributor.author Malinverno, Elisa
dc.contributor.author Pierantoni, Pietro Paolo
dc.contributor.author Villa Igor Maria
dc.contributor.author Amson, Eli
dc.coverage.spatial Perú
dc.date.accessioned 2023-09-07T17:58:48Z
dc.date.available 2023-09-07T17:58:48Z
dc.date.issued 2023
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12866/14108
dc.description.abstract The fossil record of cetaceans documents how terrestrial animals acquired extreme adaptations and transitioned to a fully aquatic lifestyle. In whales, this is associated with a substantial increase in maximum body size. Although an elongate body was acquired early in cetacean evolution, the maximum body mass of baleen whales reflects a recent diversification that culminated in the blue whale. More generally, hitherto known gigantism among aquatic tetrapods evolved within pelagic, active swimmers. Here we describe Perucetus colossus—a basilosaurid whale from the middle Eocene epoch of Peru. It displays, to our knowledge, the highest degree of bone mass increase known to date, an adaptation associated with shallow diving. The estimated skeletal mass of P. colossus exceeds that of any known mammal or aquatic vertebrate. We show that the bone structure specializations of aquatic mammals are reflected in the scaling of skeletal fraction (skeletal mass versus whole-body mass) across the entire disparity of amniotes. We use the skeletal fraction to estimate the body mass of P. colossus, which proves to be a contender for the title of heaviest animal on record. Cetacean peak body mass had already been reached around 30 million years before previously assumed, in a coastal context in which primary productivity was particularly high. en_US
dc.language.iso eng
dc.publisher Springer Nature
dc.relation.ispartofseries Nature
dc.rights info:eu-repo/semantics/restrictedAccess
dc.rights.uri https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/deed.es
dc.subject Palaeontology en_US
dc.subject Zoology en_US
dc.subject.mesh Paleontología
dc.subject.mesh Zoología
dc.title A heavyweight early whale pushes the boundaries of vertebrate morphology en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
dc.identifier.doi https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06381-1
dc.relation.issn 1476-4687

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