Named By: R. E. Fordyce - 1994.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Cetacea, Odontoceti, Waipatiidae.
Species: W. maerewhenua (type).
Size: Holotype skull about 60 centimetres long. Body length roughly estimated to be about 3.2 meters long for the holotype.
Known locations: New Zealand, North Otago - Otekaikae Limestone Formation.
Time period: Oligocene.
Fossil representation: Skull and lower jaws.
Though only based upon the description of a single skull, Waipatia has still been one of the more significant discoveries regarding our understanding of the early evolution of dolphins. This is because the skull of Waipatia represents one of the first good examples of actual bones and not just teeth. This has also led to the creation of a new group called the Waipatiidae. Waipatia is also thought to have had a rudimentary echolocating ability, based upon features present on the jaw bones that are similar to modern toothed whales.
- Waipatia maerewhenua, New Genus and New Species, Waipatiidae, New Family, an archaic late Oligocene dolphin (Cetacea: Odontoceti: Platanistoidea) from New Zealand. - Contributions in Marine Mammal Paleontology Honoring Frank C. Whitmore Jr., Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History 29:147-176. - R. E. Fordyce - 1994.