The evolution of gigantic body size represents a key to understand the ecological role of baleen whales in oceanic ecosystems. Many efforts have been devoted to the formulation of equations relating different body parts to total body length and mass in living and fossil mysticetes, mainly focusing on balaenopterid and balaenopterid-like mysticetes. Right whales (family Balaenidae) have a unique head-to-body length ratio, suggesting that their body proportions cannot be predicted effectively using equations based primarily on non-balaenid mysticetes. A new morphometric dataset of living and fossil balaenids is provided herein, and new regression equations allow one to predict the body length and mass of extinct species based on the expected head-to-body length ratio of extant balaenids. The reconstructed values are mapped on a new phylogenetic analysis of the Balaenidae, inferring body size and mass at ancestral nodes. The variations of body size and mass in Balaenidae since the early Miocene are reconstructed, revealing that: (1) a reduction in total body length occurred in the early Pliocene; (2) the origin of the gigantic body size in the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is probably related to invasion of the Arctic Ocean in the last 3 Myr; and (3) the origin of the gigantic body size in the right whales (genus Eubalaena) occurred since the latest Miocene, probably concomitant with pulses of nutrients sustaining large zooplankton populations. We suggest that the evolution of gigantism in Balaenidae occurred independently in two lineages and, probably, in response to different palaeoenvironmental drivers

Evolution of gigantism in right and bowhead whales (Cetacea: Mysticeti: Balaenidae)

Bisconti M.
;
Pellegrino L.;Carnevale G.
Last
2021-01-01

Abstract

The evolution of gigantic body size represents a key to understand the ecological role of baleen whales in oceanic ecosystems. Many efforts have been devoted to the formulation of equations relating different body parts to total body length and mass in living and fossil mysticetes, mainly focusing on balaenopterid and balaenopterid-like mysticetes. Right whales (family Balaenidae) have a unique head-to-body length ratio, suggesting that their body proportions cannot be predicted effectively using equations based primarily on non-balaenid mysticetes. A new morphometric dataset of living and fossil balaenids is provided herein, and new regression equations allow one to predict the body length and mass of extinct species based on the expected head-to-body length ratio of extant balaenids. The reconstructed values are mapped on a new phylogenetic analysis of the Balaenidae, inferring body size and mass at ancestral nodes. The variations of body size and mass in Balaenidae since the early Miocene are reconstructed, revealing that: (1) a reduction in total body length occurred in the early Pliocene; (2) the origin of the gigantic body size in the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is probably related to invasion of the Arctic Ocean in the last 3 Myr; and (3) the origin of the gigantic body size in the right whales (genus Eubalaena) occurred since the latest Miocene, probably concomitant with pulses of nutrients sustaining large zooplankton populations. We suggest that the evolution of gigantism in Balaenidae occurred independently in two lineages and, probably, in response to different palaeoenvironmental drivers
2021
134
2
498
524
https://academic.oup.com/biolinnean/article/134/2/498/6323450
Balaenidae; body mass; body size; evolution; gigantism; palaeoecology
Bisconti, M., Pellegrino, L., Carnevale, G.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1876846
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