Temporal range: Late Eocene
Basilosauridae is a paraphyletic family of extinct cetaceans that lived during the late middle to the early late Eocene, known from all continents including Antarctica. They were probably the first fully aquatic cetaceans.
Basilosaurids ranged in size from 4 to 16 m (13 to 52 ft). Like all archaeocetes, they lacked the telescoping skull of modern whales. Their dentition is easily distinguishable from that of other archaeocetes: they lack upper third molars and the upper molars lack protocones, trigon basins, and lingual third roots. The cheek teeth have well-developed accessory denticles. The hindlimbs are strongly reduced and does not articulate with the vertebral column which lack true sacral vertebrae.
Basilosaurid forelimbs have broad and fan-shaped scapulae attached to a humerus, radius, and ulna which are flattened into a plane to which the elbow joint was restricted, effectively making pronation and supination impossible. Because of a shortage of forelimb fossils from other arachaocetes, it is not known if this arrangement is unique to basilosaurids. Some of the characteristics of basilosaurids are also present in Georgiacetus.
- Family Basilosauridae
- Subfamily Basilosaurinae
- Subfamily Dorudontinae
- Subfamily Kekenodontinae
- Subfamily Stromeriinae
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