Maiacetus

Name: Maiacetus ‭(‬Good mother whale‭)‬.
Phonetic: Migh-ah-see-tus.
Named By: P.‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Gingerich,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬al-Haq,‭ ‬W.‭ ‬Koenigswald,‭ ‬W.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Sanders,‭ ‬B.‭ ‬H.‭ ‬Smith‭ & ‬I.‭ ‬S.‭ ‬Zalmut‭ ‬-‭ ‬2009.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Cetacea,‭ ‬Archaeoceti,‭ ‬Protocetidae.
Species: M.‭ ‬inuus‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore/Piscivore.
Size: About‭ ‬2.6‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Pakistan‭ ‬-‭ ‬Habib Rahi Formation.
Time period: Lutetian of the Eocene.
Fossil representation: Skulls and partial post cranial remains,‭ ‬possibly of male and female individuals.

       The name Maiacetus means‭ ‘‬good mother whale‭’ ‬and this is a reference to the fact that the holotype of Maiacetus was composed of a skull with post cranial skeletal remains,‭ ‬and inside of the post cranial skeleton there appears to be the remains of a fossilised foetus.‭ ‬If this interpretation is correct then this would mark the first discovery of a foetus within an archeocetid whale.‭ ‬An alternative theory‭ (‬Thewissen‭ & ‬McLellan,‭ ‬2009‭) ‬however has proposed that the‭ ‘‬foetus‭’ ‬may have actually been eaten by the individual Maiacetus in question.‭ ‬Counter to this however is the noted lack of feeding damage to the foetus skeleton,‭ ‬specifically a lack of tooth marks on the bones.
       A second skull added to Maiacetus shows an individual with a larger skull,‭ ‬and this has been interpreted as belonging to a male Maiacetus.‭ ‬If this is correct,‭ ‬then Maiacetus will not just be the first potential example of an archaeocetid foetus,‭ ‬but also one of the earliest examples of sexual dimorphism within primitive whales.

       Care should be taken not to confuse Maiacetus with the very similarly named Maiasaura,‭ ‬a hadrosaurid dinosaur from the late Cretaceous of North America.

Further reading
-‭ ‬New protocetid whale from the middle‭ ‬Eocene of‭ ‬Pakistan:‭ ‬birth on land,‭ ‬precocial development,‭ ‬and sexual dimorphism.‭ ‬-‭ ‬PLoS ONE‭ ‬4‭ (‬2‭)‬.‭ ‬-‭ ‬P.‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Gingerich,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬al-Haq,‭ ‬W.‭ ‬Koenigswald,‭ ‬W.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Sanders,‭ ‬B.‭ ‬H.‭ ‬Smith‭ & ‬I.‭ ‬S.‭ ‬Zalmut‭ ‬-‭ ‬2009.
-‭ ‬Maiacetus:‭ ‬displaced fetus or last meal‭? ‬-‭ ‬PLoS ONE-‭ ‬J.‭ ‬G.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Thewissen‭ & ‬W.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬McLellan‭ ‬-‭ ‬2009.



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