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15 January 2019

Fossil Discovery Suggests Ancient Whale Hunted Other Whales

An ancient whale that lived millions of years ago may have hunted the young of other whales.

Whale fossils discovered in Egypt’s whale valley in 2010 included those of an ancient whale, Basilosaurus, who lived around 35 million years ago. Up to 18 metres in length, these whales had a long snout and sharp teeth and were the largest whales in existence at the time. This area in Egypt was once a shallow sea and is famous for the wide array of whale fossils found there.

Along with the remains of various sharks and fish found near the Basilosauris fossils were the fossil bones of smaller ancient whales called Dorudon atrox. Many of the Dorudon fossils were from younger whales suggesting the area may have been used as a calving area. Skulls of some of the Dorudon whale fossils showed signs of bite marks indicating the younger ones were a likely prey for Basilosaurus. 

In modern whales, some types of orcas and false killer whales are known to prey on other whale and dolphin species.

 Fossil of ancient whales

The large skeleton of Basilosaurus (A) and the much smaller Dorudon (B) 

© Voss et al.

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