Monday, July 21, 2014

Eodelphis kabatensis illustration on the cover of JVP

Last year I was contacted by my friend and colleague Mizuki Murakami (now Dr. Murakami), who wanted to commission an illustration of a fossil odontocete from Japan for a manuscript he was working on and planning on submitting to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology in the hopes that it would be accepted and selected as the feature article. To make a long story short, it was. The illustration depicts "Eodelphis" kabatensis - a fossil delphinid and possible ancestral globicephaline or orcinine (think "blackfish" in general) that was originally named in the late 1970's by Hideo Horikawa from the late Miocene of Japan. Horikawa originally named it as Stenella kabatensis, recognizing its delphinid affinities - but subsequent workers have noted it doesn't belong in the genus Stenella, referring to it with scare quotes as "Stenella" kabatensis. Mizuki's new study redescribes this fossil (consisting of a well preserved braincase, periotic, tympanic bulla, partial mandible, and hyoid) and gives it a new genus name: Eodelphis. Unfortunately as it turns out - Eodelphis is a preoccupied name for Cretaceous marsupial. So, it will require an additional paper proposing yet another replacement name.

The cover of JVP with my illustration of "Eodelphis" kabatensis.

Eodelphis was found by Murakami et al. to be the earliest diverging member of the Orcininae, a tenuously supported group also including the modern killer whale Orcinus (and the fossil Orcinus citoniensis), the miniature killer whale-like dolphin Arimidelphis, and the robust bottlenose-like dolphin Hemisyntrachelus. Further work is needed to tell if this clade is genuine; other analyses of molecular data have been pretty variable in the placement of Orcinus. To reflect these relationships and the fact that Eodelphis would have probably been somewhat more generalized, Mizuki requested a dolphin with a body shape similar to the more "primitive" living globicephalines like the pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata), Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) and the melon headed whale (Peponocephala electra). The end result was essentially a mix of sorts of these three species - a plausible "look" for an ancestral large bodied delphinid (whether orcinine or globicephaline).

I was pretty damned happy to see a physical copy once it arrived here in Dunedin. I think this is my labmate Cheng-Hsiu Tsai's copy. I've had art show up in press releases before, but this is the first time my artwork has made it onto the cover of a journal.

And, here's the original illustration.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bobby.

Amazing work. Definitely a good feeling to see that the own artwork has made it onto the cover of a Journal!


Robert Boessenecker said...

Thanks a bunch Indira!

Davidow said...

Murakami et al. (2014)have erected the replacement name Eodelphinus for Eodelphis, which was already used for a marsupial.

Mizuki Murakami, Chieko Shimada, Yoshinori Hikida and Yuhji Soeda (2014). "Eodelphinus kabatensis, a replacement name for Eodelphis kabatensis (Cetacea: Delphinoidea: Delphinidae)". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 34 (5): 1261. doi:10.1080/02724634.2014.938159.