Bones and Teeth of South America's Oldest Fossil Whales

A scientific diagram containing photos and illustrations of the bones and teeth of fossil whales.
(Nicholas D. Pyenson / Smithsonian Institution)

These are fossil remains of archaeocetes, ancient whales, from the Paracas Formation of Peru's Pisco Basin. Smithsonian paleobiologist Nicholas D. Pyenson and a team of scientists discovered the Eocene fossils and published their findings in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Paleontology. (A-B) Lumbar vertebra of an unnamed protocetid in lateral (A) and anterior (B) views. (C-G) Teeth and skull of Ocucajea picklingi, with illustrations of the fragmentary molar dentition (C) and the incomplete skull in dorsal (D-F) and lateral (views (B). (H-I) Manubrium of Supayacetus muizoni, in ventral (H) and dorsal (I) views. Abbreviations are as follows: aperture of external nares (en), frontal (fr), upper and lower molars (M), maxilla (mx), nasal (na), nuchal crest (nc), neural spine (ns), occipital condyle (oc), palatine (pal), parietal (pa), parietosquamosal foramen (pf), postzygopophysis (pos), premaxilla (pmx), prezygopophysis (prz), sagittal crest (sc), squamosal (sq), supraoccipital (so), transverse process (t). Diagonal lines indicate broken elements; random dashes indicate matrix infilling.