Eomysticetidae is a family of extinct mysticetes belonging to Chaeomysticeti (toothless mysticetes). It is one of two families in the basal chaeomysticete clade Eomysticetoidea (the other being Cetotheriopsidae.


Eomysticetids are united by the following combination of primitive and derived characters relative to more advanced chaeomysticetes (Balaenomorpha): zygomatic process without a supramastoid crest; reduction of the superior process of the periotic into a low ridge with anterior and posterior apices in medial or lateral view; blowholes situated ahead of the eyes; an elongated intertemporal region with long parietal and frontal exposures on the cranial vertex; elongated nasals; large coronoid processes of the mandibles; flat rostrum; laterally bowed mandibles; absence of functional teeth; and large mandibular foramina.[1]


There are currently three recognized genera and one species in need of a new generic name: Eomysticetus, "Mauicetus" lophocephalus, Tohoraata, and Yamatocetus.

Until the early 21st century, some of the known representatives of the family were thought to belong to then-wastebasket family Cetotheriidae, including "Mauicetus" lophocephalus and Tohoraata waitakiensis. However, in the original description of Eomysticetus, the similarities of "Mauicetus" lophocephalus to Eomysticetus, although Sanders and Barnes (2002) stopped short of assigning "M." lophocephalus to Eomysticetidae.[2] In a 2006 SVP abstract, "M." lophocephalus and "M." waitakiensis were formally assigned to Eomysticetidae, an assignment supported by subsequent studies.[3][4][5][6]


  1. ^ Berta, A. and T.A. Deméré. (2009). Mysticetes, Evolution, pp. pp. 749-753, Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig, and J.G.M. Thewissen, eds.), 2nd ed., Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
  2. ^ Sanders, A. E. and Barnes, L. G. 2002. Paleontology of the Late Oligocene Ashley and Chandler Bridge Formations of South Carolina, 3: Eomysticetidae, a new family of primitive mysticetes (Mammalia: Cetacea). Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, 93, 313–356.
  3. ^ Fordyce, R. E. 2006. An unexpected diversity of basal baleen whales: Late Oligocene Eomysticetidae from New Zealand. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 26, 62A.
  4. ^ Marx, F. G. 2011. The more the merrier? A large cladistic analysis of mysticetes, and comments on the transition from teeth to baleen. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 18, 77–100.
  5. ^ Steeman, M. E. 2007. Cladistic analysis and a revised classification of fossil and recent mysticetes. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 150, 875–894.
  6. ^ Boessenecker, R. W., Fordyce, R. E. (2014), A new Eomysticetid (Mammalia: Cetacea) from the Late Oligocene of New Zealand and a re-evaluation of ‘Mauicetus’ waitakiensis. Papers in Palaeontology. doi: 10.1002/spp2.1005
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