mammalodon

Mammalodon (mammal tooth)

Mammalodon is a prehistoric baleen whale. It lived 25 Million years ago during the late Oligocene. Unlike modern myticeti Mammalodon still had well developed teeth. It also had a blunt snout.

Mammalodons teeth were widely spaced and it could have used them to filter the ground for small prey like modern Gray Whales. Mammalodon was able to move both its jaws against each other like modern baleen whales. Due to its teeth, Mammalodon was unable to filter the water for prey.

When Mammalodon was first described in 1939 by its discoverer Pritchard it was supposed that Mammalodon was a member of the Archaeoceti.

Mammalodon only reached a length of 8 feet (2.5 meters) and only weigh a few hundred pounds.

The family Mammalodontidae died out.

Mammalodon/"Fossil Whale" (Yowie)

Sea creatures aren’t common in prehistoric animal toy lines. Prehistoric whales are even less common, so we should cherish the ones we have. Among them is Yowie’s rendition of Mammalodon (named by Yowie as the “fossil whale”), a primitive baleen whale from the late Oligocene of Victoria, Australia. It was small by the standards of modern baleen whales, possibly reaching lengths of 3 metres in length. Notably, instead of baleen, Mammalodon had well-developed teeth, suggesting that it didn’t mainly eat plankton like its modern relatives.

The colours are close to those of extant whales, being predominantly grey with a white underbelly (curiously, the tail piece is unpainted, so the white abruptly stops at the base of the tail). There is a good level of detail on this 7cm long figure; the teeth are individually picked out, there is a pattern of ridges on the underside of the throat (much like those in modern baleen whales), and there is even a bellybutton on the underside! I think it would have been interesting if it had been given small details such as barnacles, but that may have been impractical at this scale. In terms of anatomical accuracy, this model is quite good, particularly as it accurately places the nostrils on the front of the head, as Mammalodon doesn’t seem to have had a blowhole like modern whales. As with most other Yowies, moving the head moves the tail (and vice versa), though the mechanism doesn’t work quite as well here, so it’s more like the tail twitches slightly. The fins can be moved slightly forward and back.

Overall, this is a pretty good model, capturing the likeness of Mammalodon with a high degree of accuracy. I’d recommend it to collectors of prehistoric mammals, especially because it’s currently the only Mammalodon model that currently exists. Places like eBay are your best option for obtaining this.

Whalevolution Month #22 – Janjucetus

Living around southeast Australia 25 million years ago, the 3.5m long (11′6″) Janjucetus had large eyes and jaws full of sharp teeth, and may have been an active hunter in a similar niche to modern leopard seals.

But despite sounding like it should be some sort of proto-orca, it wasn’t even an odontocete. This was actually a baleen whale, albeit a member of an odd group that split off before the development of baleen and kept their teeth. Both Janjucetus and its close relative Mammalodon had wide blunt snouts and very large mouths for their size, suggesting they were specialized for suction feeding – using water pressure to draw prey straight into their waiting jaws.