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Physeteridae (sperm whale)

Mammalia - Cetacea - Physeteridae

Physeteridae was named by Gray (1821). It is extant. Its type is Physeter. It was considered monophyletic by Lambert (2008).

It was assigned to Cete by Bonaparte (1850); to Denticete by Scammon and Cope (1869) and Gill (1871); to Denticete by Gill (1873); to Odontoceta by Ameghino (1889); to Odontocete by Hay (1902) and Hay (1930); to Squaloceti by Abel (1914), Abel (1919), Dal Piaz (1929) and Van Deinse (1931); to Odontoceti by Slijper (1936); to Cetacea by Pictet (1853), Newton (1891) and Nowak (1991); to Odontoceti by Flower (1867), Flower (1883), Lydekker (1887), Cope (1889), Cope (1890), Flower and Lydekker (1891), Flores (1895), Weber (1904), Trouessart (1904), Case (1904), Abel (1905), True (1908), Turner (1912), Miller (1923), Zittel (1925), Kellogg (1928), Weber (1928), Ellerman and Morrisson-Scott (1951), Scheffer and Rice (1963), Pilleri (1985), Carroll (1988), Vidal (1991), Benton (1993), Sach and Heizmann (2001) and Mead and Brownell (2005); and to Physeteroidea by Gray (1868), Gill (1872), Simpson (1945), Fraser and Purves (1960), Ginsburg and Janvier (1971), Kasuya (1973), Gondar (1974), Barnes et al. (1985), Muizon (1991), Fordyce and Barnes (1994), Fordyce et al. (1995), Hirota and Barnes (1995), McKenna and Bell (1997), Rice (1998), Fordyce and de Muizon (2001), Rice (2002), Kazár (2002), Geisler and Sanders (2003), Gingerich (2005), Hampe (2006), Bianucci and Landini (2007), Foekens (2008), Whitmore and Kaltenbach (2008), Uhen et al. (2008), Lambert (2008), Rice (2009), Geisler et al. (2011), Valerio and Laurito (2012), Ormezzano and Lanzetti (2014), Aguirre-Fernández and Fordyce (2014), Marx et al. (2016), Collareta et al. (2017) and Berta (2017).

Synonymy list
YearName and author
1821Physeteridae Gray p. 310
1825Physeterina Gray p. 340
1836Catodontidae Cuvier p. 564
1846Catodontidae Gray p. 21
1850Physeteridae Bonaparte p. 1
1850Physeterina Bonaparte p. 1
1850Catodontidae Gray p. 44
1853Physeteridae Pictet p. 386
1859Paleophoca Van Beneden
1864Catodontidae Gray p. 231
1866Catodontidae Gray p. 195
1867Physeteridae Flower p. 113
1868Catodontidae Gray p. 3
1868Physeteridae Gray p. 3
1869Physeteridae Scammon and Cope p. 20
1871Physeteridae Gill p. 123
1872Physeteridae Gill p. 96
1873Physeteridae Gill p. 27
1874Ziphiola Vanden Broeck p. 146
1874Ziphiola clepsydra Vanden Broeck p. 146
1876Orcopsis Van Beneden p. 489
1883Physeteridae Flower p. 184
1884Orcopsis Van Beneden p. 9
1886Physotherium Portis p. 325 figs. Plate VII
1886Physotherium sotterii Portis pp. 325-326 figs. Plate VII
1886Ziphioides Probst
1886Ziphioides triangulus Probst p. 110 figs. Fig. 7b
1886Ziphioides obliquus Probst p. 112 figs. Fig. 8b
1887Physeteridae Lydekker p. 53
1889Physeteridae Ameghino p. 887
1889Physeteridae Cope p. 876
1890Physeteridae Cope p. 606
1891Physeteridae Flower and Lydekker p. 89
1891Physeteridae Newton p. 65
1893Physotherium Zittel p. 502
1894Physodontidae Lydekker p. 4
1894Ziphioides Paquier p. 47
1895Orcopsis Flores p. 12
1895Physeteridae Flores p. 13
1898Physotherium Trouessart p. 1054
1898Ziphioides Trouessart p. 1059
1898Ziphioides obliquus Trouessart p. 1059
1898Ziphioides triangulus Trouessart p. 1059
1899Orca semseyi Bockh p. 43 figs. Figure 1
1901Ziphiola Abel p. 41
1902Physeteridae Hay p. 595
1904Physeteridae Case p. 30
1904Orcopsis Palmer p. 478
1904Palaeophoca Palmer p. 505
1904Physotherium Palmer p. 537
1904Ziphioides Palmer p. 716
1904Orcinus semseyi Trouessart p. 771
1904Physeteridae Trouessart p. 772
1904Physotherium Trouessart p. 773
1904Physotherium solterii Trouessart p. 773
1904Ziphioides Trouessart p. 775
1904Ziphioides obliquus Trouessart p. 775
1904Ziphioides triangulus Trouessart p. 775
1904Physeteridae Weber p. 578
1905Physeteridae Abel p. 51
1908Physeteridae True p. 391
1912Physeteridae Turner p. 71
1914Physeteridae Abel p. 221
1917Scaldicetus lodgei Chapman p. 34 figs. Plate IV, Fig. 6
1919Physeteridae Abel p. 763
1922Paleophoca Kellogg p. 111
1923Physeteridae Miller p. 40
1925Palaeophoca Zittel p. 78
1925Physeteridae Zittel p. 86
1928Ziphioides Kellogg p. 33 figs. Table 1
1928Physeteridae Kellogg p. 34 figs. Table 1
1928Physeteridae Weber p. 389
1929Physeteridae Dal Piaz p. 78
1930Physeteridae Hay p. 596
1931Physeteridae Van Deinse p. 33
1936Physeteridae Slijper p. 549
1945Ziphioides Simpson p. 101
1945Physeteridae Simpson p. 102
1951Physeteridae Ellerman and Morrisson-Scott p. 720
1960Physeteridae Fraser and Purves p. 112 figs. Figure 26
1963Physeteridae Scheffer and Rice p. 8
1971Physeteridae Ginsburg and Janvier p. 172
1972Palaeophoca Hendey p. 100
1973Physeteridae Kasuya p. 61
1974Physeteridae Gondar
1975Ziphioides Mead p. 750 figs. Table 1
1977Paleophoca Ray p. 395
1980Physotherium Pilleri p. 51
1985Physeteridae Barnes et al. p. 26
1985Physeteridae Pilleri p. 30
1988Palaeophoca Carroll
1988Physeteridae Carroll
1988Ziphioides Carroll
1991Physeteridae Muizon p. 297
1991Physeteridae Nowak
1991Physeteridae Vidal p. 5
1993Physeteridae Benton p. 761
1994Physeteridae Fordyce and Barnes p. 428 figs. Table 1
1995Physeteridae Fordyce et al. p. 379
1995Physeteridae Hirota and Barnes p. 455
1997Physeteridae McKenna and Bell p. 379
1997Paleophoca McKenna and Bell p. 380
1997Ziphioides McKenna and Bell p. 382
1998Physeteridae Rice
2001Physeteridae Fordyce and de Muizon p. 179
2001Physeteridae Sach and Heizmann p. 42
2002Physeteridae Kazár p. 154
2002Paleophoca Kazár p. 163
2002Scaldicetus lodgei Kazár p. 163
2002Physeteridae Rice p. 231 figs. Table 1
2002Palaeophoca Sepkoski, Jr.
2002Ziphioides Sepkoski, Jr.
2003Physeteridae Geisler and Sanders p. 28
2004Scaldicetus lodgei Fitzgerald p. 206
2005Physeteridae Gingerich p. 237 figs. Table 15.1
2005Physeteridae Mead and Brownell p. 737
2006Physeteridae Hampe p. 65
2007Physeteridae Bianucci and Landini p. 45 figs. Table 2.1
2008Physeteridae Foekens p. 7 figs. Table 1
2008Physeteridae Lambert p. 293
2008Physeteridae Uhen et al. p. 574
2008Paleophoca Uhen et al. p. 577
2008Physeteridae Whitmore and Kaltenbach p. 236
2009Physeteridae Rice p. 235 figs. Table 1
2011Physeteridae Geisler et al. p. 5 figs. Table 1
2012Physeteridae Valerio and Laurito p. 153
2014Physeteridae Aguirre-Fernández and Fordyce p. 195
2014Physeteridae Ormezzano and Lanzetti p. 20
2016Physeteridae Marx et al. p. 123
2017Physeteridae Berta p. 161
2017Physeteridae Collareta et al. p. 269 figs. Figure 6

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phylumChordataHaeckel 1847
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.

K. Hirota and L. G. Barnes 1995A family of Odontoceti having cranium with large supracranial basin, bounded posteriorly by a high, transverse, semicircular nuchal crest and laterally by a maxillary crest; lacking a median crest or a fossa in the supracranial basin; lacrimal and jugal fused; jugular part of zygomatic process short and wide, not reaching posteriorly to contact zygomatic process of squamosal; palatines not forming part of anterior wall of narial passage; narial passages of disparate sizes with right naris being smaller; pterygoid enlarged, without reduplication, hamulus small; zygomatic process of squamosal not flaring laterally from braincase; posterior part of rostrum wide and flat; air-sinus system simple, without preorbital and postorbital lobes; left premaxillary foramen lost; mandibular symphysis elongate and narrow (mandible Y-shaped); teeth single-rooted and with conical crowns, homodont; tympanic bulla relatively small; mastoid process large; accessory ossicle on periotic; all cervical vertebrae except atlas ankylosed; forelimb short, humerus approximately equal in length to radius and ulna; olecra- non process of ulna large and triangular in shape.
M. D. Uhen et al. 2008The near-cosmopolitan living sperm whale Physeter catodon Linnaeus, 1758, or Physeter macrocephalus Linnaeus, 1758 (see Rice 1998 on nomenclature), is sufficiently disparate from the related living species of Kogia (Kogiidae) to be placed in its own family Physeteridae, or crown-Physeteridae. Many fossil species have been allied to Physeter, but nomenclature is confusing especially above genus-level; crown-stem terminology has yet to be applied to the Physeter lineage. The fragmentary and enigmatic late Oligocene Ferecetotherium kelloggi Mchedlidze, 1970, from Azerbaidjan is the oldest known sperm whale (Barnes, 1985c), making sperm whales the oldest surviving family-level clade of Odontoceti.
The distinctive skull form of Physeter macrocephalus reflects the unique morphology of cranial soft tissues, as documented by Raven and Gregory (1933), Fraser and Purves (1960), Heyning (1989a), Cranford (1999, Cranford et al. 1996), and others. Diagnostic bony features for Physeter (namely, for crown-Physeteridae) include: large absolute size; long flattened triangular rostrum with generally vestigial teeth; large supracranial basin with elevated maxillary walls that lie medial to antorbital notches and large slit-like dorsal infraorbital foramina; no facial sagittal crest or elevated postnarial vertex within the supracranial basin; parabolic posterior part of maxillary crest is confluent with nuchal crest of supraoccipital; teeth homodont; periotic with enlarged accessory ossicle; and cervical vertebrae 2-7 fused.
Many fossils show some of these features, or others seen in Physeter but not detailed above, and there is little doubt that such fossils are in the Physeter lineage. For example, the Early Miocene Diaphorocetus poucheti (South Atlantic) has a supracranial basin but a more plesiomorphic brain case, which links it firmly with other odontocetes. Many fossil species, for example, in the genus Scaldicetus, retained the plesiomorphic condition of large functional teeth in both the upper and lower jaws (for example Hirota and Barnes, 1995), while others have small or vestigial upper teeth (for example Aulophyseter and Orycterocetus), as does living P. macrocephalus. The more archaic fossil sperm whales had enamel-covered tooth crowns, but in various later Tertiary fossil sperm whales the crowns of the teeth lack enamel, as does P. macrocephalus. The homodonty and enlarged supracranial basin in fossil Physeteridae have led, by analogy with the living P. macrocephalus, to the idea that sperm whales have mainly been deep-diving squid-eaters (e.g. Cozzuol, 1996).
Miocene and Pliocene fossil sperm whales include many named species worldwide. Many taxa have been based on isolated teeth of uncertain taxonomic value (e.g. Kellogg 1925a), thus creating problems in understanding the taxonomy and history of the family. Subfamily groupings used within the Physeteridae include Physeterinae, Scaldicetinae, Hoplocetinae and Aulophyseterinae (e.g. Simpson 1945, Kazar 2002).
The living P. macrocephalus is not known from the fossil record of North America. Despite reports cited by Dorr and Eschman (1970) and Holman (1995) of Physeter from Great Lakes deposits in Michigan, these specimens have been determined to be of historical (less than 1000 years) age and unlikely to have been naturally deposited (Harrington, 1988).