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Shark-cetacean trophic interactions during the late Pliocene in the Central Eastern Pacific (Panama)


Cortés, Dirley; De Gracia, Carlos; Carrillo-Briceño, Jorge D; Aguirre-Fernández, Gabriel; Jaramillo, Carlos; Benites-Palomino, Aldo; Atencio-Araúz, Joaquín Enrique (2019). Shark-cetacean trophic interactions during the late Pliocene in the Central Eastern Pacific (Panama). Palaeontologia Electronica, 22(2):1-13.

Abstract

We provide a description of the remains of a fossil whale from western Panama. The record consists of appendicular remains of a mysticete, which has been assigned to Balaenopteridae. These remains, found in the sediments of the late Pliocene Burica Formation, represent the first record of a marine mammal in the Neogene sedimentary succession of the Burica Peninsula. Two different types of shark bite marks, serrated and deep-unserrated, found on the radius and phalanges suggest scavenging by at least two white shark (Carcharodon) individuals. The deep, unserrated marks were possibly caused by continual biting by sharks. Both the morphology of the shark bite marks and their relative location on the whale limb bones constitute evidence of shark-cetacean trophic interaction. Although the specimen lacks diagnostic features that would allow a species-level identification, it does provide new information on the vertebrate fauna of a very poorly prospected Central Eastern Pacific exposure, thus opening an opportunity for exploring the marine fauna during a critical episode in Earth history, the Plio-Pleistocene transition.

Dirley Cortés. Redpath Museum, McGill University, 859 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal QC H3A 0C4, Canada. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. dirley.cortes@mail.mcgill.ca
Carlos De Gracia. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. degraciac@gmail.com
Jorge D. Carrillo-Briceño. Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. jorge.carrillo@pim.uzh.ch
Gabriel Aguirre-Fernández. Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland. gabriel.aguirre@pim.uzh.ch
Carlos Jaramillo. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843–03092, Panamá, Panamá. ISEM, U. Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France. JaramilloC@si.edu
Aldo Benites-Palomino. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. Departamento de Paleontología de Vertebrados, Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos; Avenida Arenales 1256, Lima 14, Perú. aldomar1955@gmail.com
Joaquín Enrique Atencio-Araúz. Colegio Punta Burica, Chiriquí Province, Panamá. juniormurcie@latinmail.com

Keywords: Mysticeti; shark bite marks; Neogene; late Pliocene; Central America; trophic interaction

Abstract

We provide a description of the remains of a fossil whale from western Panama. The record consists of appendicular remains of a mysticete, which has been assigned to Balaenopteridae. These remains, found in the sediments of the late Pliocene Burica Formation, represent the first record of a marine mammal in the Neogene sedimentary succession of the Burica Peninsula. Two different types of shark bite marks, serrated and deep-unserrated, found on the radius and phalanges suggest scavenging by at least two white shark (Carcharodon) individuals. The deep, unserrated marks were possibly caused by continual biting by sharks. Both the morphology of the shark bite marks and their relative location on the whale limb bones constitute evidence of shark-cetacean trophic interaction. Although the specimen lacks diagnostic features that would allow a species-level identification, it does provide new information on the vertebrate fauna of a very poorly prospected Central Eastern Pacific exposure, thus opening an opportunity for exploring the marine fauna during a critical episode in Earth history, the Plio-Pleistocene transition.

Dirley Cortés. Redpath Museum, McGill University, 859 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal QC H3A 0C4, Canada. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. dirley.cortes@mail.mcgill.ca
Carlos De Gracia. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. degraciac@gmail.com
Jorge D. Carrillo-Briceño. Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. jorge.carrillo@pim.uzh.ch
Gabriel Aguirre-Fernández. Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland. gabriel.aguirre@pim.uzh.ch
Carlos Jaramillo. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843–03092, Panamá, Panamá. ISEM, U. Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France. JaramilloC@si.edu
Aldo Benites-Palomino. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa-Ancón 0843-03092, Panamá, Panamá. Departamento de Paleontología de Vertebrados, Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos; Avenida Arenales 1256, Lima 14, Perú. aldomar1955@gmail.com
Joaquín Enrique Atencio-Araúz. Colegio Punta Burica, Chiriquí Province, Panamá. juniormurcie@latinmail.com

Keywords: Mysticeti; shark bite marks; Neogene; late Pliocene; Central America; trophic interaction

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Uncontrolled Keywords:Oceanography
Language:English
Date:5 June 2019
Deposited On:16 Aug 2019 08:04
Last Modified:01 Oct 2019 11:38
Publisher:Coquina Press
ISSN:1094-8074
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.26879/953
Official URL:https://palaeo-electronica.org/content/2019/2652-pliocene-whale-from-panama

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