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Is Borealodon a stem mysticete? No.

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Due to taxon exclusion
whale experts Shipps, Peredeo and Pyenson 2019 described Borealodon (Fig. 1) as a ‘new stem mysticete’. They falsely reported “The earliest mysticetes had teeth” under the myth of a monophyletic clade ‘Cetacea’. They omitted the actual stem mysticetes, the desmostylians (Fig. 2), from their cladogram (Fig. 3).

Figure 1. Elements of Borealodon from Shipps, Peredo and Pyenson 2019, to scale and colored here.

Borealodon has archaeocete teeth
(Fig. 1) because it is an archaeocete, basal to odontocetes. Some Borealodon teeth have a premolar-like shape with twin roots. Others have an incisor-like shape with a single root.

Figure 2. Two subsets of the LRT showing how various ‘whales’ are related to one another whenever more taxa are added. Prior whale cladograms omitted many of these pertinent taxa.

When more taxa are added,
as in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1876+ taxa; subset Fig. 2) Borealodon nests with Aetiocetus within the clade that includes tenrecs and odontocetes. Mysticetes (baleen whales) nest elsewhere in the LRT (Fig. 2), with hippos, mesonychids, desmostylians and anthracobunids (including Mammalodon and Janjucetus, which both have teeth).

Figure 3. Cladogram from Shipps, Peredo and Pyenson 2019. Colors added based on the LRT. The traditional clade ‘Cetacea’ has been invalid (= polyphyletic) since 2016.

The convergence between odontocetes and mysticetes
was documented in the LRT in 2016, but this has been completely overlooked by whale experts world-wide ever since, who continue to consider the clade Cetacea monophyletic several years after the LRT found otherwise (Fig. 2).

Figure 4. Subset of the LRT with only whale or candidate outgroups included. Note the apparent reappearance of legs after the appearance of baleen whales when pertinent taxa are omitted as in Shipps Peredo and Pyenson (Fig. 3).

What is a stem mysticete?
A desmostylian is a stem mysticete in the LRT. Desmostylians have been traditionally omitted from mysticete studies by whale experts, including Biscont 2006, Boessenecker and Fordyce 2017 and Shipps, Peredo and Pyenson 2019.

Shipps BK, Peredo CM and Pyenson ND 2019. Borealodon osedax, a new stem mysticete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Oligocene of Washington State and its implications for fossil whale-fall communities. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 182168.
Bisconti M 2006. Titanocetus, a New Baleen Whale from the Middle Miocene of Northern Italy (Mammalia, Cetacea, Mysticeti) Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology Vol. 26, No. 2 (Jun. 12, 2006), pp. 344-354 (11 pages) Published By: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Boessenecker RW and Fordyce RE 2017. Cosmopolitanism and Miocene survival of Eomysticetidae (Cetacea: Mysticeti) revealed by new fossils from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics. 60(2):


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