From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Temporal range: Chattian–Recent
Heterocetus guiscardii.JPG
Heterocetus guiscardii (nomen dubium) vertebrae
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Mysticeti
Family: Cetotheriidae
Brandt 1872
Subfamilies and genera

See text

Cetotheriidae is a family of baleen whales (suborder Mysticeti).[1] The family was generally thought to have existed from the Late Oligocene to the Early Pleistocene before going extinct. However, the phylogenetic studies conducted by Fordyce & Marx 2013 recovered the living pygmy right whale as a member of Cetotheriidae; if confirmed these results would resurrect Cetotheriidae from extinction.


After its description by Brant in 1872, Cetotheriidae was used as a wastebasket taxon for baleen whales which were not assignable to extant whale families.[2]

Comparing the cranial and mandibular morphology of 23 taxa (including late archaeocetes and both fossil and extant mysticetes),[3] Bouetel & Muizon 2006 found Cetotheriidae in this traditional sense to be polyphyletic. Based on ten cranial characters, they also concluded that of the twelve included fossil baleen-bearing mysticetes, six formed a monophyletic group, Cetotheriidae sensu stricto.[4]

Several phylogenetic studies since Bouetel & Muizon 2006 support the monophyly of a small group of core Cetotheriidae sensu stricto, archaic mysticetes with a cranium that have "a long ascending process of the maxilla with anteriorly diverging lateral border that interdigitates with the frontal" and some other characters.[5] This group is limited to Cetotherium rathkii, Metopocetus durinasus, Mixocetus elysius, Herpetocetus scaldiensis, H. transatlanticus, H. bramblei, Nannocetus eremus, and Piscobalaena nana.[6] The remaining genera placed in the family are considered Cetotheriidae sensu lato and are often referred to as the 'cetotheres'.[5]

Bisconti, Lambert & Bosselaers 2013 considered the primitive 'cetotheres' Joumocetus the most basal named taxon of their new superfamily Thalossotherii (Cetotheriidae s.l., Cetotheriidae s.s., Eschrichtiidae (gray whales) and Balaenopteridae (rorqual whales)) and suggested that the term "Cetotheriidae s.l." should be renamed "basal" or "stem thalassotherians".[7] Fordyce & Marx 2013 found that the pygmy right whale formed a well-supported clade with Eschrichtiidae and Balaenopteridae based on molecular data, and that, within 'cetotheres', it was most closely related to the herpetocetines (Herpetocetus and Nannocetus)[8] Bisconti et al. 2013, however, found, based on morphological data, it to be more closely related to Balaenidae (the bowhead and right whales), but added that additional specimens is expected to resolve these conflicting results within a few years.[9]

Classification of Cetotheriidae according to Eli Adli et al. (2014)[10] and the Fossilworks online database:[1]

Incertae sedis:



  1. ^ a b "Cetotheriidae". Fossilworks. Retrieved December 2013. 
  2. ^ Steeman 2010
  3. ^ Bouetel & Muizon 2006, p. 373
  4. ^ Bouetel & Muizon 2006, Abstract
  5. ^ a b Bisconti, Lambert & Bosselaers 2013, p. 96
  6. ^ Bisconti, Lambert & Bosselaers 2013, p. 121
  7. ^ Bisconti, Lambert & Bosselaers 2013, p. 98
  8. ^ Fordyce & Marx 2013, p. 3
  9. ^ Fordyce & Marx 2013, pp. 122–123
  10. ^ Joseph J. El Adli, Thomas A. Deméré and Robert W. Boessenecker (2014). "Herpetocetus morrowi (Cetacea: Mysticeti), a new species of diminutive baleen whale from the Upper Pliocene (Piacenzian) of California, USA, with observations on the evolution and relationships of the Cetotheriidae". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 170 (2): 400–466. doi:10.1111/zoj.12108.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gol'din, Startsev & Krakhmalnaya 2013, pp. 4–5
  12. ^ a b c d e f Bouetel & Muizon 2006, p. 376
  13. ^ Pavel Gol’din and Dmitry Startsev (2014). "Brandtocetus, a new genus of baleen whales (Cetacea, Cetotheriidae) from the late Miocene of Crimea, Ukraine". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 34 (2): 419–433. doi:10.1080/02724634.2013.799482.
  14. ^ K. K. Tarasenko (2014). "Novye rody usatykh kitov (Cetacea, Mammalia) iz miotsena Severnogo Kavkaza i Predkavkaz'ya. 3. Zygiocetus gen. nov. (srednii sarmat, Adygeya)". Paleontological Journal 48 (5).
  15. ^ Michelangelo Bisconti (2014). "Anatomy of a new cetotheriid genus and species from the Miocene of Herentals, Belgium, and the phylogenetic and palaeobiogeographical relationships of Cetotheriidae s.s. (Mammalia, Cetacea, Mysticeti)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. in press. doi:10.1080/14772019.2014.890136.