Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Taphonomy of a Mysticeti whale in the Lower Pliocene Huelva Sands Formation (Southern Spain)

Raúl Esperante, Fernando Muñiz Guinea, Kevin E. Nick


This paper reports the occurrence of an incomplete fossil baleen whale skeleton in the Lower Pliocene Huelva Sands Formation (Guadalquivir basin) near the town of Bonares, southwestern Spain. The skeleton was found in the highly bioturbated glauconitic sandstone unit in association with Neopycnodonte cochlear shells. Several morphological features of the mandibles, scapula and vertebrae suggest that the specimen belongs in the suborden Mysticeti, family Balaenopteridae. Most bones show abrasion due to a long exposure on the seafloor, and some bones show shark tooth marks and both micro- and macro-bioerosion by scavengers. The position of the bones suggests that the carcass landed on the seafloor on its left side and then turned right side up. Sedimentological and paleontological features indicate that the whale was buried in shallow platform waters under low sedimentation rates.

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