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Article contents

Hearing from the ocean and into the river: the evolution of the inner ear of Platanistoidea (Cetacea: Odontoceti)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2021

Mariana Viglino*
Affiliation:
Instituto Patagónico de Geología y Paleontología, CCT CONICET-CENPAT, Boulevard Brown 2915, U9120ACD, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina. E-mail: viglino@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar, gaetan@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar, buono@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar
Maximiliano Gaetán
Affiliation:
Instituto Patagónico de Geología y Paleontología, CCT CONICET-CENPAT, Boulevard Brown 2915, U9120ACD, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina. E-mail: viglino@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar, gaetan@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar, buono@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar
Mónica R. Buono
Affiliation:
Instituto Patagónico de Geología y Paleontología, CCT CONICET-CENPAT, Boulevard Brown 2915, U9120ACD, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina. E-mail: viglino@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar, gaetan@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar, buono@cenpat-conicet.gob.ar
R. Ewan Fordyce
Affiliation:
Department of Geology, University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin9054, New Zealand. E-mail: ewan.fordyce@otago.ac.nz
Travis Park
Affiliation:
Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BDLondon, United Kingdom. E-mail: t.park@nhm.ac.uk
*
*Corresponding author.

Abstract

The inner ear of the two higher clades of modern cetaceans (Neoceti) is highly adapted for hearing infrasonic (mysticetes) or ultrasonic (odontocetes) frequencies. Within odontocetes, Platanistoidea comprises a single extant riverine representative, Platanista gangetica, and a diversity of mainly extinct marine species from the late Oligocene onward. Recent studies drawing on features including the disparate tympanoperiotic have not yet provided a consensus phylogenetic hypothesis for platanistoids. Further, cochlear morphology and evolutionary patterns have never been reported. Here, we describe for the first time the inner ear morphology of late Oligocene–early Miocene extinct marine platanistoids and their evolutionary patterns. We initially hypothesized that extinct marine platanistoids lacked a specialized inner ear like P. gangetica and thus, their morphology and inferred hearing abilities were more similar to those of pelagic odontocetes. Our results reveal there is no “typical” platanistoid cochlear type, as the group displays a disparate range of cochlear anatomies, but all are consistent with high-frequency hearing. Stem odontocete Prosqualodon australis and platanistoid Otekaikea huata present a tympanal recess in their cochlea, of yet uncertain function in the hearing mechanism in cetaceans. The more basal morphology of Aondelphis talen indicates it had lower high-frequency hearing than other platanistoids. Finally, Platanista has the most derived cochlear morphology, adding to evidence that it is an outlier within the group and consistent with a >9-Myr-long separation from its sister genus Zarhachis. The evolution of a singular sound production morphology within Platanistidae may have facilitated the survival of Platanista to the present day.

Type
Articles
Information
Paleobiology , Volume 47 , Issue 4 , November 2021 , pp. 591 - 611
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Paleontological Society

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