Rare sperm whale fossils discovered in Panama

Rare sperm whale fossils discovered in Panama
Highlights

The bone involved in sound generation and echolocation - the spermaceti organ - has reduced in size during the whales\' evolution, says a study. The study of rare fossils from extinct pygmy sperm whales found in Panama revealed an unexpected level of complexity in the evolution of the spermaceti organ that plays a key role in the generation of sound, and in the whale\'s capacity for echolocation.

New York: The bone involved in sound generation and echolocation - the spermaceti organ - has reduced in size during the whales' evolution, says a study. The study of rare fossils from extinct pygmy sperm whales found in Panama revealed an unexpected level of complexity in the evolution of the spermaceti organ that plays a key role in the generation of sound, and in the whale's capacity for echolocation.

The new fossils show that at one time, these small sperm whales had a much larger spermaceti organ, which got downsized at least twice during their evolutionary history. "The new discovery gives us a better understanding of the ancient distribution of these poorly known relatives of the sperm whale," said Jorge Velez-Juarbe from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

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