Fossil of oldest baleen whale found
SCIENTISTS HAVE discovered the fossil of what is being considered the oldest-known relative of modern baleen whales. Dating back to 36.4 million years ago, the fossil has been excavated from the Pisco Basin on Peru's southern coast and identified as Mystacodon selenensis. Its appearance is a mixture of characteristics belonging to ancient and modern whales. Its flat snout resembles that of modern baleen whales. But its pelvic bone fits more with ancestral whales, complete with areas where the leg bones would typically slot in. That has led scientists to conclude that it still had tiny legs protruding from the body. It also had teeth, unlike modern baleen whales, and might have sucked its prey from the ocean floor. Before this finding, the oldest known baleen whale fossil to be found was 34 million years old. M selenensis is the first whale fossil found south of the equator.