Mesoplodon thomsoni Krefft

Parnaby, Harry E., Ingleby, Sandy & Divljan, Anja, 2017, Type Specimens of Non-fossil Mammals in the Australian Museum, Sydney, Records of the Australian Museum 69 (5), pp. 277-420 : 344-345

publication ID 10.3853/j.2201-4349.69.2017.1653

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Mesoplodon thomsoni Krefft


Mesoplodon thomsoni Krefft View in CoL in Scott, 1873

Mammalia, Recent and Extinct View in CoL , 116. (preface dated 21 July 1873).

Common name. Strap-toothed Beaked Whale.

Current name. Mesoplodon layardii (J. Gray, 1865c) , following Perrin (2009i).

Holotype. Not determined. Possibly the same specimen as the holotype of Mesoplodon guentheri .

Material. All of the following entries in the Palmer Register were originally entered in Palmer’s hand as “ Mesoplodon thomsoni ”, none of which are marked by Palmer as a type: PA.356, original entry by Palmer is Fairy Ck Wollongong, 25 vertebrae; and PA.357, Fairy Ck, portion of skull, but registration or collection dates are not provided for either and it is not clear if they are of the same individual; PA.358, from Little Bay, skeleton jaws restored; PA.359, fractured jaws of above; PA.363, no locality given, 2 pelvic bones and 3 hyoid bones; PA.364, no locality given, 3 portions of sternum. Mesoplodon thomsoni is also written on four of the six bones registered under PA.363 and PA. 364 in very old style writing.

Type locality. Uncertain. Generally assumed to be Little Bay, Sydney (e.g., J. Ogilby 1892; Iredale & Troughton, 1934) but possibly also Fairy Ck Wollongong if the name was based on PA.356 and PA.357.

Comments. There appears to be no published description of this taxon, which is usually cited as a manuscript name of Krefft. A search of Krefft’s archival documents might resolve current uncertainty surround the type material and type locality of this name. Ogilby (1892) has been cited as the author of the name but the overlooked compilation of Scott (1873) is the earliest published use of the name thomsoni that we have found but he did not provide a description. Scott (1873: 116) lists “ Mesoplodon Thomsoni Krefft MSS ” as a possible synonym of “Sowerby’s Ziphius Mesoplodon sowerbiensis de Blainville ” [= Mesoplodon bidens ]. He states: “ The skeleton in the Australian Museum, which, for the present is considered as a synonym, is that of an animal stranded at the latter end of 1870 on the beach near Little Bay “. This could be interpreted to mean that thomsoni is the same taxon as the animal stranded near Little Bay, or that thomsoni was based on that specimen.

In a newspaper article on Australian whales published after Scott (1873), Krefft (1873c) states that “A splendid specimen in the Australian Museum collection has been named in honour of the late Professor A. M. Thomson, Mesoplodon Thomsonii ; it appears, however, to be identical with the above species [ Mesoplodon Sowerbiensis ] ”. Krefft did not cite authorship of thomsonii or mention an associated locality in his newspaper article of October 1873 and it appears that he no longer believed that it was a valid species. The name had apparently fallen into disuse, although Ramsay (1890b: 109) lists a whale skeleton on display at the AM as “ Mesoplodon thomsoni ”.

The only information provided by Ogilby (1892: 71) is a passing comment that the name Mesoplodon thomsoni used by Krefft in an unpublished manuscript of a whale stranded at Little Bay, was in his opinion likely to be a female example of Mesoplodon layardii ( Gray, 1865c) .Assuming that Ogilby examined Krefft’s manuscript, and was not paraphrasing Scott, it would appear that the type locality is Little Bay.

Given that thomsoni has been linked with an animal from Little Bay ( Scott, 1873; Ogilby, 1892), it is possible that Krefft simply recycled the holotype of guentheri by applying the name thomsoni to honour the premature death of his colleague Professor Thomson (Alexander Morrison Thomson, 1841–1871). However, it is also possible that Krefft based the name on another specimen, perhaps P.356, a Mesoplodon stranded near Wollongong and originally entered as thomsoni by Palmer. However, thomsoni was the only species name entered by Palmer for PA.358 and 359, the holotype of Mesoplodon guentheri Krefft. Rediscovery of Krefft’s unpublished manuscript describing thomsoni , if it has survived, could resolve this.

Iredale & Troughton (1934) mistakenly attribute thomsoni to Flower (1878: 416) as noted by Hershkovitz (1966). Bannister (1988b) attributes Mesoplodon thomsoni to Ogilby, 1892 but misspelt it as “ thompsoni”.

Order Carnivora













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