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The oldest and the rarest - combining insight from both hemispheres to gain a global picture of baleen whale origins and macroevolution

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 MYSTICETI project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the MYSTICETI project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "MYSTICETI" about.

cutting    reconstructing    evolution    northern    rate    ranges    physical    taxon    biodiversity    palaeoenvironmental    patterns    techniques    nutrient    vertebrate    mode    material    evolutionary    whales    ancestral    ecological    diversity    environment    morphology    dates    mysticete    historical    geographic    most    proxies    integrating    good    animals    size    shifts    earth    interaction    simultaneously    species    workings    disparity    ocean    fossil    create    whale    profound    body    southern    morphological    syntheses    sampling    environmental    mysticetes    baleen    ideal    distributors    benchmark    phylogeny    date    phylogenetic    clade    insights    balanced    existence    dataset    divergence    predators    relatively    fundamental    data    bayesian    poor    dispersal    macroevolutionary    source    spectacular    mysticeti    multifaceted    record    hampered    infer    bias    extant    hemisphere    ecosystem    tempo    rates    edge    modern    marine    disjunct    diversification   

Project "MYSTICETI" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: RUE VAUTIER 29
postcode: 1000

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Belgium [BE]
 Project website
 Total cost 264˙780 €
 EC max contribution 264˙780 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2014
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-GF
 Starting year 2015
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2015-11-16   to  2018-11-15


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Baleen whales (Mysticeti), the largest animals on earth, are a spectacular example of evolutionary adaptation and, as predators and nutrient distributors, a major component of the modern ocean ecosystem. Their relatively good fossil record, large ecological impact and the existence of extant species as a source of comparative data make mysticetes an ideal macroevolutionary case study – promising fundamental insights into the interaction between biodiversity, evolution, and the physical environment. Previous research into the mode and tempo of baleen whale evolution has been hampered by a historical data bias towards the Northern Hemisphere, poor taxon sampling, and disjunct methodologies. I propose to address these issues through (1) targeted sampling of Southern Hemisphere fossil material to create the most comprehensive and most balanced dataset on mysticete morphology to date; (2) the application of cutting-edge phylogenetic methods, including new Bayesian techniques to simultaneously infer phylogeny, divergence dates, evolutionary rates and ancestral body size; (3) reconstructing past mysticete diversity, disparity (morphological diversity) and shifts in their rate of diversification, as well as ancestral geographic ranges and dispersal patterns; and (4) integrating all available data and results with palaeoenvironmental proxies to test whether mysticete evolution has been driven by environmental change. This project will create a benchmark for future studies as one of the most comprehensive and multifaceted macroevolutionary syntheses for any major vertebrate clade, and provide profound insights into evolutionary processes and the workings of the marine ecosystem.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Felix G. Marx, Klaas Post, Mark Bosselaers, Dirk K. Munsterman
A large Late Miocene cetotheriid (Cetacea, Mysticeti) from the Netherlands clarifies the status of Tranatocetidae
published pages: e6426, ISSN: 2167-8359, DOI: 10.7717/peerj.6426
PeerJ 7 2019-09-13
2019 Felix G. Marx, Mónica R. Buono, Alistair R. Evans, R. Ewan Fordyce, Marcelo Reguero, David P. Hocking
Gigantic mysticete predators roamed the Eocene Southern Ocean
published pages: 98-104, ISSN: 0954-1020, DOI: 10.1017/s095410201800055x
Antarctic Science 31/02 2019-09-13
2019 Felix Marx, Erich Fitzgerald, R. Ewan Fordyce
Like phoenix from the ashes: how modern baleen whales arose from a fossil ‘dark age’
published pages: , ISSN: 0567-7920, DOI: 10.4202/app.00575.2018
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 64 2019-09-13
2018 R. Ewan Fordyce, Felix G. Marx
Gigantism Precedes Filter Feeding in Baleen Whale Evolution
published pages: 1670-1676.e2, ISSN: 0960-9822, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.027
Current Biology 28/10 2019-09-13
2018 Felix G. Marx, Travis Park, Erich M.G. Fitzgerald, Alistair R. Evans
A Miocene pygmy right whale fossil from Australia
published pages: e5025, ISSN: 2167-8359, DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5025
PeerJ 6 2019-09-13
2017 David P. Hocking, Felix G. Marx, Travis Park, Erich M. G. Fitzgerald, Alistair R. Evans
Reply to comment by Kienle et al . 2017
published pages: 20171836, ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1836
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284/1863 2019-09-13
2018 David P. Hocking, Felix G. Marx, Renae Sattler, Robert N. Harris, Tahlia I. Pollock, Karina J. Sorrell, Erich M. G. Fitzgerald, Matthew R. McCurry, Alistair R. Evans
Clawed forelimbs allow northern seals to eat like their ancient ancestors
published pages: 172393, ISSN: 2054-5703, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.172393
Royal Society Open Science 5/4 2019-09-13
2017 Felix G. Marx, Alberto Collareta, Anna Gioncada, Klaas Post, Olivier Lambert, Elena Bonaccorsi, Mario Urbina, Giovanni Bianucci
How whales used to filter: exceptionally preserved baleen in a Miocene cetotheriid
published pages: 212-220, ISSN: 0021-8782, DOI: 10.1111/joa.12622
Journal of Anatomy 231/2 2019-09-13
2017 Travis Park, Felix G. Marx, Erich M. G. Fitzgerald, Alistair R. Evans
The cochlea of the enigmatic pygmy right whale Caperea marginata informs mysticete phylogeny
published pages: 801-809, ISSN: 0362-2525, DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20674
Journal of Morphology 278/6 2019-09-13
2017 Cheng-Hsiu Tsai, Alberto Collareta, Erich M.G. Fitzgerald, Felix G. Marx, Naoki Kohno, Mark Bosselaers, Gianni Insacco, Agatino Reitano, Rita Catanzariti, Masayuki Oishi, Giovanni Bianucci
Northern pygmy right whales highlight Quaternary marine mammal interchange
published pages: R1058-R1059, ISSN: 0960-9822, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.056
Current Biology 27/19 2019-09-13
2017 David P. Hocking, Felix G. Marx, Erich M. G. Fitzgerald, Alistair R. Evans
Ancient whales did not filter feed with their teeth
published pages: 20170348, ISSN: 1744-9561, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2017.0348
Biology Letters 13/8 2019-09-13
2016 Felix G. Marx, David P. Hocking, Travis Park, Tim Ziegler, Alistair R. Evans, Erich M.G. Fitzgerald
Suction feeding preceded filtering in baleen whale evolution
published pages: 71-82, ISSN: 1447-2546, DOI: 10.24199/j.mmv.2016.75.04
Memoirs of Museum Victoria 75 2019-09-13
2017 David P. Hocking, Felix G. Marx, Travis Park, Erich M. G. Fitzgerald, Alistair R. Evans
A behavioural framework for the evolution of feeding in predatory aquatic mammals
published pages: 20162750, ISSN: 0962-8452, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2750
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284/1850 2019-09-13
2016 Felix G. Marx, Naoki Kohno
A new Miocene baleen whale from the Peruvian desert
published pages: 160542, ISSN: 2054-5703, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160542
Royal Society Open Science 3/10 2019-09-13
2016 Felix G. Marx, R. Ewan Fordyce
A Link No Longer Missing: New Evidence for the Cetotheriid Affinities of Caperea
published pages: e0164059, ISSN: 1932-6203, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164059
PLOS ONE 11/10 2019-09-13
2017 Felix G. Marx, Olivier Lambert, Christian de Muizon
A new Miocene baleen whale from Peru deciphers the dawn of cetotheriids
published pages: 170560, ISSN: 2054-5703, DOI: 10.1098/rsos.170560
Royal Society Open Science 4/9 2019-09-13

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