Tanaka, Abella, Aguirre-Fernández, Gregori & Fordyce, 2017
A new small probable Oligocene dolphin from Ecuador represents a new genus and species, Urkudelphis chawpipacha. The new taxon is known from a single juvenile skull and earbones; it differs from other archaic dolphins in features including widely exposed frontals at the vertex, a dorsally wide open vomer at the mesorostral groove, and a strongly projected and pointed lateral tuberosity of the periotic. Phylogenetic analysis places it toward the base of the largely-extinct clade Platanistoidea. The fossil is one of a few records of tropical fossil dolphins.
CETACEA Brisson, 1762
NEOCETI Fordyce & de Muizon, 2001
ODONTOCETI Flower, 1867
PLATANISTOIDEA Gray, 1863 sensu Fordyce, 1994
Comment: Urkudelphis chawpipacha shows these synapomorphies of the Platanistoidea (sensu Fordyce, 1994), as recognised previously by Tanaka and Fordyce : periotic with C-shaped parabullary sulcus; small articular rim, which forms a ridge anterolateral to posterior process of periotic and separated from it by a sulcus. Two phylogenies place Urkudelphis near the base of the Platanistoidea (sensu lato; including Platanistidae, Squalodelphis, Notocetus, Phocageneus, Otekaikea, Waipatiidae, Awamokoa and Squalodontidae ).
|Fig 2. Skull, Urkudelphis chawpipacha MO-1 (holotype) in dorsal view. Left, photo, right, line art.|
|Fig 4. Skull, Urkudelphis chawpipacha MO-1 (holotype) in right lateral view. Upper, photo, lower, line art.|
Urkudelphis gen. nov.
Type species: Urkudelphis chawpipacha sp. nov.
Urkudelphis chawpipacha sp. nov.
Diagnosis: Urkudelphis chawpipacha is a small archaic odontocete with the following autapomorphic combination of characters: shallow antorbital notch (character 10); anteromedially oriented anterior edge of the supraorbital process (character 37); weakly dorsally convex nuchal crest in dorsoposterior view (character 119); approximately same sized apertures of the vestibular aqueduct and cochlear aqueduct (character 186); dorsoventrally thin pars cochlearis on the periotic (character 192); inner posterior prominence of the tympanic bulla is anterior to the outer posterior prominence (character 218); very strongly projecting and pointed lateral tuberosity; and an anteroposteriorly long accessory ossicle of the periotic. Urkudelphis chawpipacha differs from early branching odontocetes, including Agorophius, Ashleycetus, Simocetus, Mirocetus and Xenorophus in having the frontals on the vertex at a level behind the postorbital process; anteroposteriorly shorter and transversely wider frontals (approaching a square-shape rather than narrow and elongate); and parallel-sided posterior part of the ascending process of each maxilla forming a narrow elongate face. Urkudelphis differs from Early Miocene Papahu taitapu, Chilcacetus cavirhinus, Arktocara yakataga, Allodelphis pratti and Ninjadelphis ujiharai, having the frontals on the vertex flat and longer than the taxa above, which have more nodular and shorter frontals. Urkudelphis differs from Chilcacetus and Papahu in having a narrow premaxillary sac fossa. Urkudelphis chawpipacha also notably shows: frontals at the vertex invaded posteriorly by the interparietal; and long anteromedial projection of the palatine on the palate. Other diagnostic features of U. chawpipacha are shared with more-crownward Waipatiidae: a shallow suprameatal pit of the squamosal (character 152); an abruptly ventrally deflected anterior process of the periotic (character 172); and a nearly flat dorsal surface of the periotic in lateral view (character 181). In addition, Urkudelphis chawpipacha shares several characters with more-crownward Platanistoidea: a periotic with C-shaped parabullary sulcus (character 175); and a small articular rim, which forms a ridge anterolateral to the posterior process of the periotic and separated from it by a sulcus (character 195).
Holotype: MO-1, an incomplete skull (premaxilla, maxilla, vomer, pterygoid, frontal, parietal, interparietal, alisphenoid, squamosal and supraoccipital), including the right periotic, right tympanic bulla and right malleus.
Etymology: The generic name, Urkudelphis originates from Kichwa “urku” meaning mountain, referring to the type locality of Montañita, and Greek “delphis” for dolphin, which has been used widely as a suffix for dolphin generic names. Chawpipacha results from the combination of chawpi, meaning "half" or “middle” and pacha, meaning "the world" representing the equator, and thus Ecuador in Kichwa.
Type locality: MO-1 was found by one of the authors (JA) and several UPSE students in August 2015 in a boulder that collapsed from a cliff at the coastal locality here named Montañita/Olón (latitude 1°48'50.64" S, longitude 80°45'24.18" W). The Montañita/Olón (MO) locality (Fig 1) lies midway between the towns of Montañita and Olón (Santa Elena Province, Ecuador) and can only be accessed during low tides.
A new small dolphin from probable Oligocene (Chattian?) strata in Santa Elena, Ecuador is described as a new species and genus, Urkudelphis chawpipacha. The new taxon is characterized by: an anteromedially oriented anterior edge of the supraorbital process; weakly convex nuchal crest in dorsoposterior view; approximately same sized apertures of vestibular aqueduct and cochlear aqueduct; dorsoventrally thin pars cochlearis on periotic; and inner posterior prominence placed anterior to the outer posterior prominence. Urkudelphis chawpipacha differs from other Oligocene dolphins in the combination of: frontals on the vertex at a level posterior to the postorbital process; shorter and wider frontals; and parallel-sided posterior part of the ascending process of the maxilla. Phylogenetic analysis places it near the base of the largely-extinct clade Platanistoidea. The fossil is one of few fossil Neoceti reported from the equator, and is a reminder that Oligocene cetaceans may have ranged widely in tropical waters.
Yoshihiro Tanaka, Juan Abella, Gabriel Aguirre-Fernández, Maria Gregori and R. Ewan Fordyce. 2017. A New Tropical Oligocene Dolphin from Montañita/Olón, Santa Elena, Ecuador. PLoS ONE. 12(12); e0188380. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188380
New ancient dolphin species Urkudelphis chawpipacha discovered in Ecuador http://phy.so/432980137 via @physorg_com