Ancient whales were predators not gentle giants

August 30, 2017
Museums Victoria and Monash University palaeontologists found ancient baleen whales had sharp predator teeth, debunking the theory that they were filter feeders like the modern day gentle giants

Ancient whales had extremely sharp predator teeth similar to lions, Australian scientists said Wednesday in a discovery they believe debunks theories the mammals used their teeth to filter feed like today's gentle giants.

There are two major groups of whales—toothed creatures such as killer whales, and baleen, which filter plankton and small fish from the ocean for food with special bristle-like structures in their mouths.

Using 3D scanners, Museums Victoria and Monash University palaeontologists made digital teeth models of fossil baleen whales and today's mammals from specimen collections around the world.

They found that teeth in ancient baleen whales—the ancestors of the Southern Right and Blue whale—were different to the present-day and were instead much sharper.

"These results are the first to show that ancient baleen whales had extremely sharp teeth with one function—cutting the flesh of their prey," Museums Victoria's senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology Erich Fitzgerald said.

"Contrary to what many people thought, whales never used their teeth as a sieve, and instead evolved their signature filter feeding technique later—maybe after their teeth had already been lost."

A previous theory about ancient whales suggested they filtered feed using teeth that when closed formed a zigzag-like sieve, in a similar manner to some living Antarctica seals.

Australian researchers say ancient baleen whales had sharp teeth for hunting prey rather than using them as a sieve to filter feed, as previously thought

The sieve trapped food in the mouth and also allowed water to flow between the teeth. They were eventually replaced by baleen, the theory added.

The discovery, published Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters, meant "whales completely turned their feeding biology upside down" when they evolved to filter feed, Museums Victoria and Monash University research fellow David Hocking said.

The researchers said there was more work to do to understand the origins of baleen whales, which are Earth's largest animals, but feed on some of the smallest ocean creatures.

Explore further: Ancient South Carolina whale yields secrets to filter feeding's origins

More information: "Ancient whales did not filter feed with their teeth," Biology Letters (2017). 10.1098/rsbl.2017.0348

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Bart_A
1 / 5 (9) Aug 30, 2017
There is no science behind the claim that the whales mysteriously "evolved" over time. That is a fantasy.

Science will however observe that some ancient whales had sharp teeth.

tekram
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2017
SamB
1.4 / 5 (5) Aug 30, 2017
If modern science saw an Orca's skeleton for the first time, they definitely would have classified this mammal as a dangerous predator, not a gentle giant. So, I do not believe any predictions on past personalities of any kind!
AGreatWhopper
5 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2017
Bart_AholeLicker 1 /5 (4) Aug 30, 2017
There is no science behind the claim that the whales mysteriously "evolved" over time. That is a fantasy.


What kind of a fucking waste of a site would allow a goddamned mother fucking creationist to cut and paste the same insane bullshit on every goddamned post with the word "evolution"? And a moderated site at that.

Yeah, it'd have to be totally pimped out and the "moderator" would have to have explicit instructions to suborn the mentally ill, and screw people that actually are here for the content that find it offensive.

Bart_A1 /5 (4) Aug 30, 2017
There is no science behind the claim that the whales mysteriously "evolved" over time. That is a fantasy.

https://en.wikipe...ch_arson

MarsBars
3 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2017
What kind of a ***** waste of a site would allow a ****** ****** ****** creationist to cut and paste the same insane ****** on every ****** post with the word "evolution"? And a moderated site at that.

Yeah, it'd have to be totally pimped out and the "moderator" would have to have explicit instructions to suborn the mentally ill, and screw people that actually are here for the content that find it offensive.

@AGreatWhopper - while of the same view as you with regards to evolution and creationists, your mode of expression and language use in responding to @Bart_A is equally unacceptable on a science news site. Take a deep breath, calm down, and try to be civilized.

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