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      First remingtonocetid archaeocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the middle Eocene of Egypt with implications for biogeography and locomotion in early cetacean evolution

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          Abstract

          Remingtonocetidae are Eocene archaeocetes that represent a unique experiment in cetacean evolution. They possess long narrow skulls, long necks, fused sacra, and robust hind limbs. Previously described remingtonocetids are known from middle Eocene Lutetian strata in Pakistan and India. Here we describe a new remingtonocetid, Rayanistes afer, n. gen. n. sp., recovered from a middle to late Lutetian interval of the Midawara Formation in Egypt. The holotype preserves a sacrum with four vertebral centra; several lumbar and caudal vertebrae; an innominate with a complete ilium, ischium, and acetabulum; and a nearly complete femur. The ilium and ischium of Rayanistes are bladelike, rising sharply from the body of the innominate anterior and posterior to the acetabulum, and the acetabular notch is narrow. These features are diagnostic of Remingtonocetidae, but their development also shows that Rayanistes had a specialized mode of locomotion. The expanded ischium is larger than that of any other archaeocete, supporting musculature for powerful retraction of the hind limbs during swimming. Posteriorly angled neural spines on lumbar vertebrae and other features indicate increased passive flexibility of the lumbus. Rayanistes probably used its enhanced lumbar flexibility to increase the length of the power stroke during pelvic paddling. Recovery of a remingtonocetid in Egypt broadens the distribution of Remingtonocetidae and shows that protocetids were not the only semiaquatic archaeocetes capable of dispersal across the southern Tethys Sea.

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          Origin of whales from early artiodactyls: hands and feet of Eocene Protocetidae from Pakistan.

          Partial skeletons of two new fossil whales, Artiocetus clavis and Rodhocetus balochistanensis, are among the oldest known protocetid archaeocetes. These came from early Lutetian age (47 million years ago) strata in eastern Balochistan Province, Pakistan. Both have an astragalus and cuboid in the ankle with characteristics diagnostic of artiodactyls; R. balochistanensis has virtually complete fore- and hind limbs. The new skeletons are important in augmenting the diversity of early Protocetidae, clarifying that Cetacea evolved from early Artiodactyla rather than Mesonychia and showing how early protocetids swam.
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            The Origin(s) of Whales

             Mark D Uhen (2010)
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              New whale from the Eocene of Pakistan and the origin of cetacean swimming

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                Journal of Paleontology
                J. Paleontol.
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0022-3360
                1937-2337
                September 2015
                March 21 2016
                : 89
                : 05
                : 882-893
                Article
                10.1017/jpa.2015.57
                © 2016

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