Eocetus

Name: Eocetus ‭(‬dawn whale‭)‬.
Phonetic: E-oh-see-tus.
Named By: Eberhard Fraas‭ ‬-‭ ‬1904.
Synonyms: Zeuglodon macrospondylus,‭ ‬Mesocetus schweinfurthi.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Cetacea,‭ ‬Archaeoceti,‭ ‬Protocetidae.
Species: E.‭ ‬schweinfurthi‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬E.‭ ‬wardii‭?
Diet: Carnivore/Piscivore.
Size: Skull‭ ‬96‭ ‬centimetres long.
Known locations: Egypt‭ ‬-‭ ‬Guishi Formation‭ (‬E.‭ ‬schweinfurthi‭)‬.‭ ‬USA,‭ ‬North Carolina‭ ‬-‭ ‬Castle Hayne Formation‭ (‬E.‭ ‬wardii‭)‬.‭ ‬Isolated vertebrae from Germany,‭ ‬Ukraine and the US state of Virginia have also been considered to be from Eocetus.
Time period: Bartonian of the Eocene.
Fossil representation: Skull for E.‭ ‬schweinfurthi,‭ ‬Partial skull and post cranial remains for E.‭ ‬wardii.

       Eocetus was first named by Eberhard Fraas in‭ ‬1904,‭ ‬but at first as Mesocetus schweinfurthi.‭ ‬It soon came to the attention of Fraas however that the name Mesocetus was already in use,‭ ‬so he instead created the genus name Eocetus for his specimen.‭ ‬Known as a protocetid whale,‭ ‬and hence relative to genera such as Protocetus,‭ ‬Eocetus represents an early form of predatory whale that became common during the Eocene.‭ ‬The type species E.‭ ‬schweinfurthi is so far only known from a skull from Egypt.‭ ‬Two vertebrae once attributed to the type species by Fraas are now credited as belonging to Basilosaurus.‭ ‬Two further vertebrae added by Ernst Stromer have since disappeared,‭ ‬and only diagrams of these vertebrae remain.
       In‭ ‬1999‭ ‬Mark Uhen created a new species of Eocetus named E.‭ ‬wardii‭ (‬after the discoverer of the fossils Lauck Ward‭)‬.‭ ‬This was the first set of remains to include more complete post cranial remains along with elements of the skull.‭ ‬E.‭ ‬wardii has been somewhat controversial because it was named from fossils‭ ‬discovered‭ ‬in North America,‭ ‬a considerable distance away from Egypt.‭ ‬The concern here is that the protocetid whales have been considered by some to have had a limited aquatic ability and possibly could not travel great distances.‭ ‬Another concern is that the identification of the new species vertebrae as Eocetus was based upon the drawings of vertebrae added to the type species by Ernst Stromer,‭ ‬the originals of which are now missing.
       The physical features of protocetid whales however indicate that they were much better adapted to life in the ocean than on land,‭ ‬and it’s a reasonable conclusion that already by this early stage in their development,‭ ‬they spent most if not all of their time in the water.‭ ‬It also needs to be appreciated that an ocean is not the same barrier to a swimming creature as it is for a land based creature.‭ ‬As long as there is available food,‭ ‬and water temperature is within tolerable levels,‭ ‬there really is no limit to how far an aquatic animal can go in a body of water.
       The presence of possible Eocetus remains from the Ukraine and Germany also hints that Eocetus were swimming in the waters between Africa and Europe,‭ ‬which were more widely separated during the Eocene to what they are today,‭ ‬as well as around to what is now the North Sea.‭ ‬Also for the sake of argument,‭ ‬Eocetus would not have to cross the total expanse of the Atlantic Ocean,‭ ‬they could have just as easily followed the coastlines of Europe around to what is now the British Isles and Scandinavia across to Greenland and to North America.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Neue Zeuglodonten aus dem unteren Mitteleocän vom Mokattam bei Cairo‭ ‬-‭ ‬Geologische und Paläontologische Abhandlungen‭ (‬Jena:‭ ‬Verlag Gustav Fischer‭) ‬6‭ (‬3‭)‬:‭ ‬199‭–‬220.‭ ‬Eberhard Fraas‭ ‬-‭ ‬1904a.
-‭ ‬Neue Zeuglodonten aus dem unteren Mitteleocän vom Mokattam bei Cairo‭ ‬-‭ ‬Geologische Zentralblatt‭ (‬Leipzig‭) ‬5:‭ ‬374.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Eberhard Fraas‭ ‬-‭ ‬1904b.
-‭ ‬New Species of Protocetid Archaeocete Whale,‭ ‬Eocetus wardii‭ (‬Mammalia:‭ ‬Cetacea‭) ‬from the Middle Eocene of North Carolina‭ ‬-‭ ‬Journal of Paleontology Vol.‭ ‬73,‭ ‬No.‭ ‬3‭ (‬May,‭ ‬1999‭)‬,‭ ‬pp.‭ ‬512-528‭ ‬-‭ ‬M.‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Uhen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1999.
-‭ ‬First record of the aracheocete whale family Protocetidae from Europe‭ ‬-‭ ‬Fossil Record‭ ‬11‭ (‬2‭)‬:‭ ‬57‭–‬60.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Mark D.‭ ‬Uhen‭ & ‬Hans-Jürgen Berndt‭ ‬-‭ ‬2008.
-‭ ‬An Occurrence of the Protocetid Whale‭ "‬Eocetus‭" ‬wardii in the Middle Eocene Piney Point Formation of Virginia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Journal of Paleontology‭ ‬85‭ (‬2‭)‬:‭ ‬271‭–‬278.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Robert E.‭ ‬Weems,‭ ‬Lucy E.‭ ‬Edwards,‭ ‬Jason E.‭ ‬Osborne‭ & ‬Aaron A.‭ ‬Alford‭ ‬-‭ ‬2011.
-‭ ‬New records of‭ "‬Eocetus‭" ‬sp.‭ (‬Mammalia:‭ ‬Сetacea‭) ‬from the Eocene of Ukraine‭ ‬-‭ ‬Ukrainian Geologist Journal‭ ‬3‭ (‬39‭)‬:‭ ‬104‭ ‬-‭ ‬P.‭ ‬Goldin,‭ ‬E.‭ ‬Zvonok‭ & ‬T.‭ ‬Krakhmalnaya‭ ‬-‭ ‬2012.



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