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Diorocetus hiatus is a species of baleen whale, also known as mysticetes, from the Middle Miocene (16 mya - 11.6 mya). It had a total length of ~ 6 meters, with a skull that was1.5 meters. The whale was discovered along the Mid-Atlantic coast of the Eastern United States. Fossils of the species have been recovered from both Maryland and Virginia; specifically from the Calvert Formation (Middle Miocene, Serravallian, 13-11 ma). Being a small baleen whale, it was originally described as a member of the cetotheres, but was later placed within its own family, Pelocetidae (Steeman, 2007).

The genus Diorocetus was first described in 1968, by Remington Kellogg. The first specimen discovered and described was from the Calvert formation on the Mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. (Kellogg, 1968). There are two other species that fill out the Diorocetus genus (both found in Japan): D. chichibuensis and D. shobarensis (Yoshida et al., 2003;Otsuka & Ota, 2008). The Japanese species were not found until much later than D. hiatus. Interestingly, D. shobarensis was found to be the earliest-known whale within the genus and was dated to the Burdigalian (Early Miocene, 20-15 ma) (Otsuka & Ota, 2008).


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© Joseph Villari

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