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Zygorhiza kochii

Mammalia - Artiodactyla - Basilosauridae

Basilosaurus kochii was named by Carus (1847) [Old number MNB 15324a-b]. Its type specimen is MB Ma 43248, a partial skull (posterior portion of skull), and it is a 3D body fossil. Its type locality is Clarksville, which is in a Priabonian marine mixed carbonate-siliciclastic in Alabama.

It was recombined as Zygorhiza kochii by Kellogg (1936), Thurmond and Jones (1981), Fordyce (1982), Uhen (1998), Uhen (2002), Uhen (2004), Bouetel and Muizon (2006), McLeod and Barnes (2008), Uhen (2008), Uhen (2009), Fitzgerald (2010), Marx (2011), Schouten (2011), Uhen (2013), Gingerich (2015), Velez-Juarbe et al. (2015) and Uhen (2018).

Synonymy list
YearName and author
1847Basilosaurus kochii Carus p. 13 figs. pl. 2, Figs. 3-4
1849Zeuglodon hydrarchus Carus p. 385 figs. plates 39A, 39B
1851Zeuglodon brachyspondylus minor Müller pp. 69-80
1898Zeuglodon hydrarchus Trouessart p. 1010
1908Zygorhiza brachyspondylus True p. 13
1908Zygorhiza brachyspondylus minor True p. 13
1908Zeuglodon brachyspondylus minor True pp. 69-80
1914Zeuglodon brachyspondylum Abel pp. 203, 220
1914Zygorhiza minor Abel p. 220
1928Zygorhiza minor Kellogg pp. 40-41
1930Zygorhiza minor Hay p. 568
1936Zygorhiza kochii Kellogg p. 101
1981Zygorhiza kochii Thurmond and Jones p. 192
1982Zygorhiza kochii Fordyce p. 422
1998Zygorhiza kochii Uhen p. 38
2002Zygorhiza kochii Uhen p. 79
2004Zygorhiza kochii Uhen p. 12
2006Zygorhiza kochii Bouetel and Muizon p. 383
2008Zygorhiza kochii McLeod and Barnes p. 93
2008Zygorhiza kochii Uhen p. 562
2009Zygorhiza kochii Uhen p. 93
2010Zygorhiza kochii Fitzgerald p. 370 figs. Table 1
2011Zygorhiza kochii Marx p. 83 figs. Figure 2
2011Zygorhiza kochii Schouten p. 18
2013Zygorhiza kochii Uhen p. 11
2015Zygorhiza kochii Gingerich p. 164
2015Zygorhiza kochii Velez-Juarbe et al. p. 15 figs. Fig. 10
2018Zygorhiza kochii Uhen

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phylumChordataHaeckel 1847
OlfactoresJefferies 1991
subclassDipnotetrapodomorpha(Nelson 2006)

If no rank is listed, the taxon is considered an unranked clade in modern classifications. Ranks may be repeated or presented in the wrong order because authors working on different parts of the classification may disagree about how to rank taxa.

M. D. Uhen 2013Members of the species Zygorhiza kochii have strong vertical ornamentation on the enamel of the teeth, and well-developed cingula on the premolars with additional cuspules on these cingula (e.g. Kellogg, 1936; Köhler & Fordyce, 1997). These features are not shown in the type specimen, as it lacks teeth. See the discussion below regarding the replacement of the holotype with a neotype specimen, USNM 11962, which does show this di- agnostic feature clearly (Kellogg, 1936, plates 10-15).
Additional cranial features were investigated as pos- sible diagnostic characteristics of Zygorhiza kochii. All proved to be either too difficult to assess, or proved to be variable in nature. For instance, the periotic has proven to be a good source of diagnostic characters among taxa of Neoceti, but there are a very limited number of periotics associated with teeth and skulls for Zygorhiza kochii. Some small differences in the shape of the pars cochlearis and the anterior processes were observed, but it is impossible to know whether this is due to intraspecific variation or possible interspecific variation.
Also, the area of the cranial vertex was investigated, but proved to be highly variable. Among the five skulls at- tributed to Zygorhiza that preserve this area (RMM 2739, TM 8501, USNM 11962, 16638, and 16639), all have nota- ble differences in the conformation of the sutures in this region. In RMM 2739, the premaxillae meet posterior to the external nares, excluding the anterior nasals from the narial opening. In USNM 16638, the lateral margin of the nasal presents a “notch” into which the posteriormost end of the premaxilla is sutured. TM 8501, USNM 11962 and USNM 16638 all have a large anterior process of the fron- tal (narial process of the frontal). RMM 2739, has a small anterior processes of the frontal, while USNM 16639 has none. Finally, in USNM 11962, the posterior end of the me- dial margin of the maxilla makes contact with the anterior process of the frontal, while in all of the others (this can- not be observed in TM 8501) it contacts the lateral margin of the nasal. Since none of these features seem to correlat- ed to one another, for the time being, Zygorhiza kochii is considered to be a highly variable species in these respects.