Mounted skeleton of Dorudon atrox in the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt am Main, copyright Eva Kröcher.

Belongs within: Cetaceamorpha.
Contains: Mysticeti, Odontoceti.

The Basilosauridae are a group of stem-cetaceans known from the upper Eocene (Barnes et al. 1985). This group is probably paraphyletic to the crown Cetacea.

The Cetacea includes the whales and dolphins. Modern cetaceans are strictly aquatic, with the external hindlimbs lost and the forelimbs modified into flippers. Fossil cetaceans of the stem-group, however, include amphibious forms with all limbs well developed. The most basal cetaceans, such as Pakicetus, were primarily terrestrial (Thewissen et al. 2001).

Basilosauridae [Dorudontidae, Hydrarchidae, Prozeuglodontidae, Stegorhinidae, Zeuglodontidae]
| i. s.: Pontogeneus Leidy 1852G03
| `--P. brachyspondylus (Müller 1849) [=Zeuglodon brachyspondylus]BM78
| Ancalecetus Gingerich & Uhen 1996G03
| Basiloterus Gingerich et al. 1997G03
| Chrysocetus Uhen & Gingerich 2001G03
| Zeuglodon cetoidesA05
| |--Zygorhiza True 1908BM78, G03
| | `--Z. kochii (Reichenbach 1847)SB02
| |--Saghacetus Gingerich 1992G92
| | `--*S. osiris (Dames 1894)G92 (see below for synonymy)
| `--Dorudon Gibbes 1845SOG09, G92 [=Durodon (l. c.)G92; incl. Doryodon Cope 1868G92]
| |--*D. serratus Gibbes 1845G92
| |--D. atroxG03
| `--D. stromeri Kellogg 1936SB02 [=Prozeuglodon stromeriG92]
`--+--Cetacea [Autoceta, Neoceti]SOG09
| |--MysticetiSOG09
| `--OdontocetiSOG09
`--Basilosaurinae [Zeuglodontinae]BDR85
|--Platyosphys Kellogg 1936BM78, WS76
| `--P. paulsonii (Brandt 1873)BDR85
|--Prozeuglodon Andrews 1906BM78
| `--*P. atrox Andrews 1906G92 [incl. Zeuglodon intermedius Dart 1923G92, Dorudon intermediusBM78]
`--Basilosaurus Harlan 1834SOG09, SM93
|--B. cetoides (Harlan 1845)SB02
|--B. hussainiD07
`--B. isis (Beadnell in Andrews 1904)G92 [=Zeuglodon isisG92, Protocetus isisBM78, Prozeuglodon isisBM78]

*Saghacetus osiris (Dames 1894)G92 [=Zeuglodon osirisBM78, Z. (Dorudon) osirisBM78; incl. Z. elliotsmithii Dart 1923G92, Dorudon elliotsmithiiBM78, Z. sensitivus Dart 1923G92, D. sensitivusBM78, Z. zitteli Stromer 1903G92, D. zitteliBM78, Protocetus zitteliBM78]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A05] Ameghino, F. 1905. Les édentés fossiles de France et d’Allemagne. Anales del Museo Nacional de Buenos Aires, serie 3, 6: 175–250.

[BDR85] Barnes, L. G., D. P. Domning & C. E. Ray. 1985. Status of studies on fossil marine mammals. Marine Mammal Science 1 (1): 15–53.

[BM78] Barnes, L. G., & E. Mitchell. 1978. Cetacea. In: Maglio, V. J., & H. B. S. Cooke (eds) Evolution of African Mammals pp. 582–602. Harvard University Press: Cambridge (Massachusetts).

[D07] Dixon, D. 2007. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Hermes House: London.

[G92] Gingerich, P. D. 1992. Marine mammals (Cetacea and Sirenia) from the Eocene of Gebel Mokattam and Fayum, Egypt: stratigraphy, age, and paleoenvironments. University of Michigan Papers on Paleontology 30: i–ix, 1–84.

[G03] Gingerich, P. D. 2003. Land-to-sea transition in early whales: evolution of Eocene Archaeoceti (Cetacea) in relation to skeletal proportions and locomotion of living semiaquatic mammals. Paleobiology 29 (3): 429–454.

[SB02] Sanders, A. E., & L. G. Barnes. 2002. Paleontology of the Late Oligocene Ashley and Chandler Bridge Formations of South Carolina, 3: Eomysticetidae, a new family of primitive mysticetes (Mammalia: Cetacea). Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 93: 313–356.

[SOG09] Spaulding, M., M. A. O’Leary & J. Gatesy. 2009. Relationships of Cetacea (Artiodactyla) among mammals: increased taxon sampling alters interpretation of key fossils and character evolution. PLoS One 4 (9): e7062.

[SM93] Stucky, R. K., & M. C. McKenna. 1993. Mammalia. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 739–771. Chapman & Hall: London.

[WS76] Whitmore, F. C., Jr & A. E. Sanders. 1976. Review of the Oligocene Cetacea. Systematic Zoology 25 (4): 304–320.

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