November 27th, 2016. TOKYO – In a major discovery, the fossil skeleton of a Peruvian whale exhibited in Japan for 17 years has been identified as a new extinct cetacean species from the late Miocene period that covered 10 million to about five million years.
The discovery will help researchers examine the evolution of whales, said Naoko Miyagawa, the curator of the Gamagori Museum of Earth, Life and the Sea, where the 8-meter (26 feet) fossil has been under exhibit since its inauguration in 1999.
The remains correspond to a specimen of a new species of the Balenopterids family, commonly known as whales, which include the largest animals on Earth and represent more than half of the suborder of bearded cetaceans (mysticeti).
The research into the fossil by the British scientific community of The Royal Society had began after a group of experts visited the museum in February 2015 and raised the possibility of it being a new species owing to the differences between the fins of the known species.
The skull features of the skeleton were also unique, Miyagawa said, adding that the new species has been christened Incakujira (Inca whale) anillodefuego.