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Article: A new Eomysticetid (Mammalia: Cetacea) from the Late Oligocene of New Zealand and a re-evaluation of ‘Mauicetus’ waitakiensis

Papers in Palaeontology - Vol. 1 Part 2 - Cover Image
Publication: Papers in Palaeontology
Volume: 1
Part: 2
Publication Date: May 2015
Page(s): 107 140
Author(s): Robert W. Boessenecker and R. Ewan Fordyce
DOI: 10.1002/spp2.1005
Addition Information

How to Cite

BOESSENECKER, R.W., FODYCE, R.E. 2015. A new Eomysticetid (Mammalia: Cetacea) from the Late Oligocene of New Zealand and a re-evaluation of ‘Mauicetus’ waitakiensis. Papers in Palaeontology,1, 2, 107-140.

Author Information

  • Robert W. Boessenecker - Department of Geology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (email:
  • Robert W. Boessenecker - University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, CA, USA
  • R. Ewan Fordyce - Department of Geology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (email:

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 15 MAY 2015
  • Article first published online: 13 NOV 2014
  • Manuscript Accepted: 3 JUL 2014
  • Manuscript Received: 19 MAY 2014

Funded By

University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship
National Geographic Society. Grant Number: 4846-92

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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The published Oligocene record of mysticetes (baleen whales) is dominated by toothed mysticetes in addition to the Eomysticetidae, the earliest known chaeomysticetes known only from the Oligocene. Formally recognized eomysticetids include examples from the Oligocene of South Carolina, USA (Eomysticetus), and Japan (Yamatocetus). A new fossil from the upper Oligocene Otekaike Limestone including a partial skull, periotic, tympanic bulla, mandible and some postcrania is here described as Tohoraata raekohao gen. et sp. nov. Tohoraata confirms the presence of an eomysticetid in New Zealand. Tohoraata raekohao is characterized by delicate frontal with numerous supraorbital foramina and sulci, relatively long exposure of the frontal and parietal along a transversely narrow intertemporal region, greatly enlarged temporal fossa, massive and anteriorly directed zygomatic process lacking a supramastoid crest, and a periotic with superior process reduced to a low ridge with anterior and posterior apices. Cranial and postcranial fusion of elements, development of muscle attachments and osteohistology demonstrate that the T. raekohao holotype is an adult or possible subadult. Features of the tympanic bulla including a relatively wide bulla with a medial lobe that is transversely much wider than the lateral lobe, and a slightly posterolaterally facing exoccipital, permit referral of the fragmentary ‘Mauicetus’ waitakiensis of Marples into the genus Tohoraata, resulting in Tohoraata waitakiensis comb. nov. Description of T. raekohao and resolution of the relationships of the hitherto problematic Tohoraata waitakiensis indicates that several eomysticetids were present in the Southern Ocean during the Late Oligocene.

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