Subject: Extinct whales

Martine Berube (
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 14:33:41 GMT

At 04.42 PM 21-03-1999 -0800, you wrote:
>Dear Martine Berube,
>my 5th  grade daughter is trying to find out info on extinct "toothed
whales". All we can find is a name "Archeoceti" for extinct whales, and then
very little information on them. Could you please help? Are they the same....???
>john gilbert

Dear John,

The modern cetaceans, the order Cetacea, are represented by two suborders:
the baleen whales or Mysticeti and the toothed whales or Odontoceti.  I
found an article which discuss Acheoceti at this
address: You will see that the
position of the Acheoceti is still unsolved. So, the Archeoceti is regarded
as either a third suborder which is now extinct or the ancestral species of
either the odontocetes or mysticetes as their were quite different then the
two surviving lines, the toothed and the baleen whales. They lived about 50
millions years ago in a world of tropical vegetation and swamps known as the
Tethys sea.  They sort of looked like dolphins look today, with elongated
bodies, reduced hindlimbs, and long
snouts.  Some fossils of Archaeocetes have been found in Pakistan, India,
and North Africa.
I found a list of extinct species but they don't mention the squalodonts
which appears several millions years before the last of the archeocetes
disappears. These were more clearly recognisable as odontocetes or toothed
whales.  They flourished in the Miocene and disappeared in the Pliocene.

Order Cetacea

    Suborder Archaeoceti - EXTINCT 
    Suborder Odontoceti 
        Superfamily Platanistoidea
            Family Acrodelphidae - EXTINCT
        Superfamily Delphinoidea
            Family Kentriodontidae - EXTINCT 
            Family Albireonidae - EXTINCT 
There is some information about this subject in books such as:

Bonner, W. N. 1980. Whales. Blandford Press, Poole, Dorset.

Gaskin, D. E. 1982. The Ecology of Whales and Dolphins. Heinemann, London
and Portsmouth, New Hamphires.


Martine Berube
School of Biological Sciences 		    
University of Wales - Bangor                
Deiniol Road, Bangor 		
Gwynedd LL57 2UW 		
Wales, United Kingdom		
Phone 	+44 1 248 38 22 96
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