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Pygmy Sperm Whale

Pygmy Sperm Whale

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Published by draculavanhelsing
Kogia Breviceps
Kogia Breviceps

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on May 01, 2011
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Kogia breviceps
(Cetacea: Kogiidae)
E. B
K. O
National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources, 1315 East–West Highway (SSMC3), Suite 13758, SilverSpring, MD 20910-3282, USA; brian.bloodworth@noaa.gov (BEB)Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, 6295 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32821-8043, USA (DKO)
Kogia breviceps
(de Blainville, 1838) is a cetacean commonly called the pygmy sperm whale. A diminutive relative of the sperm whale and difficult to identify in the field, it is 1 of only 2 members of the genus
. It is endemic to offshorewaters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans in temperate and tropical regions. It is considered solitary and deep-divingin pursuit of cephalopod prey. Abundance is poorly known, although it is protected under U.S. federal and international law.No specimens have ever been maintained permanently in captivity, and, temporary holding of stranded individuals has rarelybeen nonlethal. DOI: 10.1644/819.1.
Key words:
asymmetrical skull, cetacean, marine mammal, Odontoceti, pygmysperm whale, whale biologyPublished 9 October 2008 by the American Society of MammalogistsSynonymy completed 20 March 2008w w w . m a m m a l o g y . o r g
Kogia breviceps
(de Blainville, 1838)
Pygmy Sperm Whale
Physeter breviceps
de Blainville, 1838:337. Type locality ‘‘capde Bonne-Espe´rance,’’ Cape Province, South Africa.
Kogia breviceps
Gray, 1846:22. First use of current namecombination.
Euphysetes Grayii 
Wall, 1851:46. Type locality ‘‘MaroobrahBeach, half way between Coojee and Botany,’’ NewSouth Wales, Australia; see ‘‘Remarks.’’
Euphysetes macleayi 
Krefft, 1866:713. Type locality ‘‘ManlyBeach,’’ New South Wales, Australia.
Kogia grayii 
Gray, 1866:218. Name combination.
Kogia macleayii 
Gray, 1866:391. Name combination andincorrect subsequent spelling of 
Euphysetes macleayi 
Euphysetes grayi 
Gill, 1871:737, 739. Incorrect subsequentspelling of 
Euphysetes grayii 
Kogia floweri 
Gill, 1871:738. Type locality ‘‘a short distancefrom Mazatlan,’’ Sinaloa, Mexico.
Kogia grayi 
Gill, 1871:738. Incorrect subsequent spelling of 
Euphysetes grayii 
Kogia macleayi 
Gill, 1871:737. Name combination.
Euphysetes pottsii 
Haast, 1873:100. Type locality ‘‘GovernorBay,’New Zealand.
Kogia goodie
True, 1884:641. Type locality ‘‘Monmouth,’’New Jersey.C
. Order Cetacea, suborder Odonto-ceti, superfamily Physeteroidea, family Kogiidae, subfamilyKogiinae, genus
(Rice 1998). Two species constitutethe genus,
K. breviceps
K. sima
(Handley 1966; Rice1998).
K. breviceps
is monotypic.
Externally, stranded
Kogia breviceps
is readily identifiedfrom
K. sima
by the distance between the snout and anteriorinsertion of the dorsal fin, which is greater than 50% of totalbody length. In addition, dorsal fin height is less than 5% of total body length (Handley 1966; Ross 1979).
K. breviceps
grows to a larger size than
K. sima
, with adults reaching
Fig. 1.— 
Kogia breviceps
(SWF-KB-8614-B) calf duringrehabilitation after stranding in Indian River County, Florida.Photo courtesy SeaWorld of Florida.
819:1–12, 1 video ( ), 1 audio ( )
4.25 m (Caldwell et al. 1971b) and 417 kg (Tomilin 1957)versus the 2.7-m (Handley 1966; Ross 1979) and 280-kg(Leatherwood et al. 1988) maxima known for
K. sima
.However, at sea identification is difficult, with dorsal finlocation, height, and total body length as possible charactersto identify
to species.Diagnostic characteristics rely upon dental and cranialmorphometrics established by Handley (1966) and Ross(1979) for adult specimens. Maxillary teeth may (Ross 1979)or may not (Handley 1966) be found in
K. breviceps
. Twelveto 16 mandibular teeth (rarely 10 or 11) are present (7–12,rarely 13 in
K. sima
). Teeth are longer than 30 mm and widerthan 4.5 mm in diameter (smaller measures are consistentwith
K. sima
). Condylobasal length is greater than 350 mm,the mandibular symphasis is ventrally keeled (not so in
) and longer than 64 mm. Additionally, features of 
include a dorsal cranial fossa that is not cuppedcaudally, a left fossa that is distinctively longer and narrowerthan the right, and elongated pterygoid–basisphenoid‘‘wings.’’
Kogia breviceps
has been described as having a‘‘porpoise-like’’ or ‘‘shark-like’’ appearance (Fig. 1), likelystemming from the blunt, squared or conical head shape(Ross 1979; Wall 1851; Wynne and Schwartz 1999), presenceof a ‘‘false-gill’’ marking (white bracket pigmentation) alongeither lateral meatus (Hale 1963; Hubbs 1951; Ross 1979),and an inferior mouth (Wynne and Schwartz 1999). Thedorsal fin is diminutive, but strongly falcate, as are bothflukes (Hale 1963; Wall 1851). Pectoral flippers fit snugglyagainst the body. Coloration is variable between dark andbluish gray dorsally; blue-gray laterally; and cream, ivory, ora similar white color ventrally (Hale 1963; Hubbs 1951; Ross1979). The gray coloration extends caudally to encompassthe ventrum caudal to the anus (Hubbs 1951). Postmortemdiscoloration occurs as darkening dorsally and pink orpurplish mottling ventrally.
cranial morphology (Fig. 2) exhibits dramaticdeviations from terrestrial mammals and most cetaceans,with only the sperm whale (
Physeter catodon
) and beakedwhales having a comparable asymmetry and dorsal fossa
Fig. 2.— 
Dorsal, ventral, and lateral views of a skull of 
and lateral perspective of the mandible. Adult malespecimen collected from Saint Catherine’s Island, Georgia, UnitedStates, on 20 February 1996 (field ID GA92-02-22-01), archived atthe Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City (collection number13592). Condylobassal length, or greatest length of the skull, is485 mm. Photos courtesy of Jay Villemarette, Museum of Osteology.
Kogia breviceps
shape. Relative to terrestrial mammals, pronounced deriva-tion is most obvious in maxilla and premaxilla telescopingand narial architecture. However,
K. breviceps
has theshortest rostrum (Handley 1966) and greatest asymmetricalskewness of any cetacean (Haast 1873; Ness 1967). Themesorostral canal contains cartilage that ossifies with age,the rate of which increases significantly at sexual maturity(Ross 1979). Maxillaries and premaxillaries dominate thedorsal cranium’s rostral aspect (Handley 1966; Wall 1851).These elements extend caudally to near the supraoccipitals(separated by the frontals—Schulte 1917) along the occipitalcrest, which forms a large C-shaped cup. This cup is dividedinto 2 ‘‘bowl shaped’’ cavities by the dorsal sagittal septum,which is composed of the maxillary, premaxillary, and nasalbones, and through which the left naris passes (Clarke 2003;Schulte 1917). The dorsal sagittal septum is formed from theleft maxilla and right premaxilla (Schulte 1917; Wall 1851).The left naris is 7–15 times larger than the right (Haast 1873;Schenkkan and Purves 1973; Wall 1851) and is the primaryrespiratory passage, whereas the right likely functions invocalization (Clarke 2003; Handley 1966). Nasal bones arehighly reduced (Wall 1851). Interparietals appear absent inadults but are highly reduced and fused to the frontals inimmature specimens (Schulte 1917). Frontals are displacedby the maxillaries laterally and form part of the orbit withthe jugals (Wall 1851). A zygomatic arch does not connect tothe preorbitals but leaves a large gap along the orbit’sventral border (Schulte 1917). It has been suggested that thewidth between occipital condyles could be diagnostic(Handley 1966), but overlap with
K. sima
has been observedin this measure (Ross 1979).The ventral aspect of the skull is less derived than thedorsal. Maxillaries still dominate the rostrum, with 2vestigial slits that may house rudimentary teeth. Premax-illae are visible along the midsagittal plane (Hale 1963;Wall 1851). Palatine bones are reduced, whereas ptery-goids are enlarged to form much of the nasal foramen (Wall1851).Mandibles of 
K. breviceps
(Fig. 2) are exceptionally thinand delicate (Haast 1873; Handley 1966; Schulte 1917; Wall1851), to the point of being translucent along the caudalbody. Mandibular condyles are reduced (Schulte 1917; Wall1851). A dental canal is present rostrally, but it only extendsslightly over one-third of mandibular length. The mandib-ular symphasis is not fused (Schulte 1917).
Kogia breviceps
is cosmopolitan in temperate andtropical waters (Fig. 3; Handley 1966; Leatherwood et al.1983). This includes the Pacific from Peru and Chile(Huckstadt 2005; Sanino and Yanez 1997; Van Waerebeeket al. 1987) north to Canada (Gulf of California [Brownell1969; Vidal et al. 1987], California [Hubbs 1951], Washing-
Fig. 3.— 
Worldwide locations of roughly 1,700 known sightings, strandings, or bycatch records of 
Kogia breviceps
(dots) and probabledistribution of 
K. breviceps
in marine habitats (thatching). Distribution encompasses regions generally between 45
N and 45
S, withadditional extralimital records up to 54
Kogia breviceps

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