An atypical study led by a group of researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand has discovered yet another fossilised remains, revealing the mysteries behind the evolution of baleen whales.
The ancient fossil whale, that swam the Antarctica seas 34 million years ago, has paved the path for further knowledge regarding the evolution of baleen whales.
Professor Ewan Fordyce, from the University's Department of Geology, found a part of the skull - Llanocetus denticrenatus and it is believed to be the second-oldest ballen whale across the globe.
The baleen whale is considered to be the largest animal on the planet.
As per the latest findings, the ancient whales were devoid of any baleen and had well-developed gums and ferocious teeth to bit their prey.
"The early Llanocetus denticrenatus is the ancestor of the modern gentle blue whales and humpbacks," said palaeontologist Felix Marx from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
While the present whales have baleen in their mouth, the ancestor had teeth and was a frightening predator, Marx added.
Moreover, the Llanocetus denticrenatus, having a huge body length of about eight meters has also rubbished the earlier studies, which suggest that 'filter feeding' initially came into existence when the whales still possessed teeth.
Talking about the similarities between the present-day whales and the ancestors, both of them possessed unique groves at the roof of their mouths that generally consisted of blood vessels. The huge gums in the ancient whales eventually turned more complex and ultimately transformed into baleens.
Researchers believe that the climate transformation from tropical temperatures to much cooler temperatures is the principal reason behind the evolution of whales. With the sudden change in temperature, a transformation in the food and nutrition cycle also took place forcing the whales to alter their heritable characteristics.
The study suggested that the baleen may have evolved to help in keeping the smaller preys more effectively in the mouth, according to professor Fordyce.
A research paper based on these findings have been published in the journal Current Biology on Thursday.