Olivier Lambert, a paleontologist at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels and his team traveled to Peru and started to explore the area. As part of the study, they conducted excavations and found the Mystacodon selenensis skeleton from the Pisco Basin, Ica Region on Peru’s southern coast, reports Scientist American.
This discovery is extremely important for earth’s history as it allows scientists to fill in the gap of the baleen whale’s evolution. The recently discovered Mystacodon selenensis fossil is 36.4 million years old and it is the oldest baleen relative found. Baleen whales include species such as humpbacks and blue whales.
The skeleton found in southern Peru displays characteristics that confirm that the fossil is the first baleen whale relative known to be part of an ancient group of whale ancestors called basilosaurids. The fossil size is estimated to be 4 meters long, the shape of its skull, pelvic bone, and other characteristics fit more with the descriptions of an ancient whale, rather than a modern one.
This is a great achievement for paleontologists, as it will allow them to solve many questions regarding the origins of whale lineages.