Volume 06, issue 02
<< prev. next >>
ISSN: 2274-0422

Article Management

You must log in to submit or manage articles.

You do not have an account yet ? Sign up.

MorphoMuseuM Volume 06, issue 02
<< prev. article next article >>

Original article

A delphinid petrosal bone from a gravesite on Ahu Tahai, Easter Island: taxonomic attribution, external and internal morphology.
Maëva J. Orliac Logo, Catherine Orliac, Michel C. Orliac and Antoine Hautin
Published online: 31/03/2020

Keywords: bony labyrinth; petrosal; Rapanui; stapes; vestibulo cochlear nerve

References: 46
Cited by: 4

Cite this article: Maëva J. Orliac, Catherine Orliac, Michel C. Orliac and Antoine Hautin, 2020. A delphinid petrosal bone from a gravesite on Ahu Tahai, Easter Island: taxonomic attribution, external and internal morphology. MorphoMuseuM 6(1)-e91. doi: 10.18563/journal.m3.91

Export citation


In this contribution, we describe the external and internal morphology of a delphinid petrosal bone collected from Ahu Tahai, a burial site located on the Southwestern coast of Easter Island, at Hangaroa. We discuss the taxonomic attribution of this archaeological item and describe its internal structures based on µCT data, including the bony labyrinth and the nerve and vein patterns. Identification of the nerves exists lead us to relocate the identification of the foramen singulare in delphinid petrosals.


Specimens and 3D Data

indet. indet. AT1 View specimen



Type: "3D_surfaces"

doi: 10.18563/m3.sf.420   state:published

Download 3D surface file


petrosal bone

Type: "3D_surfaces"

doi: 10.18563/m3.sf.421   state:published

Download 3D surface file


in situ bony labyrinth

Type: "3D_surfaces"

doi: 10.18563/m3.sf.422   state:published

Download 3D surface file


bony labyrinth and associated nerves and blood vessels

Type: "3D_surfaces"

doi: 10.18563/m3.sf.423   state:published

Download 3D surface file


Published in Volume 06, issue 02 (2020)


Aguirre-Fernández G., Barnes L. G., Aranda-Manteca F. J., Fernández-Rivera J. R., 2009. Protoglobicephala mexicana, a new genus and species of Pliocene fossil dolphin (Cetacea; Odontoceti; Delphinidae) from the Gulf of California, Mexico, Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana 61, 245-265.

Ayres W. S., 1979. Easter Island fishing. Asian Perspective 22, 61-92.

Ayres W. S., 1985. Easter Island subsistence. Journal de la Société des Océanistes 80, 103-124.

Bahn P., Flenley J., 2017. Easter Island, Earth Island: the enigmas of Rapa Nui. Rowman & Littlefield, New York, London.

Barone R., Bortolami R., 2004. Anatomie comparée des mammifères domestiques: système nerveux central. Neurologie I. Tome sixième. Vigot frères, Paris.

Bianucci G., 1996. The Odontoceti (Mammalia, Cetacea) from Italian Pliocene. Systematics and phylogenesis of Delphinidae. Palaeontographia Italica 83, 73-167

Bianucci G., 2005. Arimidelphis sorbinii a new small killer whale-like dolphin from the Pliocene of Marecchia River (Central eastern Italy) anda phylogenetic analysis of the Orcininae (Cetacea: Odontoceti). RivistaItaliana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 111, 329-344.

Bianucci G., Landini W., 2016. Cetacea: An Historical Overview. In: Miller D. L. (Ed), Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Cetacea: Whales, Porpoises and Dolphins. CRC Press, pp. 13-46.

Bianucci G., Vaiani S. C., Casati S., 2009. A new delphinid record (Odontoceti, Cetacea) from the Early Pliocene of Tuscany (Central Italy): systematics and biostratigraphic considerations. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen 254, 275-292.

Churchill M., Martinez-Caceres M., de Muizon C., Mnieckowski J., Geisler J. H., 2016. The origin of high-frequency hearing in whales. Current Biology 26(16), 2144-2149.

Computer generated distribution maps for Stenella attenuata (Pantropical spotted dolphin), with modelled year 2100 native range map based on IPCC A2 emissions scenario., version of Aug. 2016. Web. Accessed 6 Dec. 2017.

Doran A. H. G., 1876. Morphology of the mammalian ossicula auditus. Transactions of the Linnean Society, Zoology 1, 371-497.

Ekdale E. G., 2013. Comparative anatomy of the bony labyrinth (inner ear) of placental mammals. PLoS One 8(6), e66624.

Fleischer G., 1976. Hearing in extinct cetaceans as determined by cochlear structure. Journal of Paleontology 50, 133-152.

Gray H., 1918. Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body. Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia.

Henry T., 1988. Tahiti aux Temps Anciens. Publication de la Société des Océanistes n°1, Musée de l'Homme, Paris.

Hucke-Gaete R., Aguayo-Lobo A., Yancovic-Pakarati S., Flores M., 2014. Marine mammals of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and Salas y Gómez Island (Motu Motiro Hiva), Chile: a review and new records Island. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research 42(4), 743-751.

Jefferson T. A., Webber M. A., Pitman R. L., 2008. Marine mammals of the world, a comprehensive guide to their identification. Academic Press, London.

Kaschner K., Rius-Barile J., Kesner-Reyes K., Garilao C., Kullander S., Rees T., Froese R. 2013. AquaMaps. Predicted range maps for aquatic species World Wide Web electronic publication, Version, 8, 2013.

Kasuya T., 1973. Systematic consideration of recent toothed whales based on morphology of tympano-periotic bone. The Scientific Reports of the Whale Research Institute (Tokyo) 25, 1-103.

Kellogg R., 1927. Kentriodon pernix, a Miocene porpoise from Maryland. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 69(19), 1-14.

Kellogg R., 1924. A fossil porpoise from the Calvert Formation of Maryland. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 63, 1-58.

Kellogg R. 1928. The history of whales-their adaptation to the life in the water. Quarterly Review of Biology 3, 29-76.

Koerper H. C., Hunter G., Snyder I., Cramer J., 2014. Marine Mammal Ear Bones as Charms/Curiosities. Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly 49, 13-20.

Lambert O., Bianucci G., Post K., 2009. A new beaked whale (Odontoceti, Ziphiidae) from the middle Miocene of Peru. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 29(3), 910-922.

Lee G., 1992. The Rock Art of Easter Island. Institut of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles.

Luo Z., Eastman E. R., 1995. Petrosal and inner ear of a squalodontoid whale: implications for evolution of hearing in odontocetes. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 15(2), 431-442.

Macrini T. E., Flynn J. J., Croft D. A., Wyss A. R., 2010. Inner ear of a notoungulate placental mammal: anatomical description and examination of potentially phylogenetically informative characters. Journal of Anatomy 216, 600–610.

Mead J. G., Fordyce R. E., 2009. The therian skull: a lexicon with emphasis on the odontocetes. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 627, 1-248.

Meng J., Fox R. C., 1995. Osseous inner ear structures and hearing in early marsupials and placentals. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 115(1), 47-71.

Métraux A., 1940. Ethnology of Easter Island. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Publication, Honolulu.

Muizon C. D., 1984. Les vertébrés fossiles de la formation Pisco (Pérou), 2 partie : Les odontocètes (Cetacea, Mammalia) du pliocène inférieur de Sud-Sacaco. Travaux de l’Institut Français des Etudes Andines 27, 1-187.

Mulloy W., 1970. Preliminary report of the restoration of ahu Vai Uri, Easter Island. The Easter Island committee International Fund for Monuments.

Nummela S., Thewissen J. G. M., Bajpai S., Hussain S. T., Kumar K., 2004. Eocene evolution of whale hearing. Nature 430, 776-778.

Nummela S., Thewissen J. G. M., Bajpai S., Hussain S. T., Kumar K., 2007. Sound transmission in archaic and modern whales: Anatomical adaptations for underwater hearing. The Anatomical Record 290, 716-733.

O’Leary M. A., 2010. An anatomical and phylogenetic study of the osteology of the petrosal of extant and extinct artiodactylans (Mammalia) and relatives. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 335, 1–206.

Orliac C., Orliac M., 2018a. Easter Island, History of the Rapa Nui People. Moai (ed), Hangaroa, Easter Island.

Orliac C., Orliac M., 2018b. Terre et civilisation rapanui. In: Actes Sud (ed), L'Ile de Pâques. Musée Champollion Figeac, Musée Fenaille Rodez, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle Toulouse, pp18-27.

Orliac M. J., Araújo R., Lihoreau F., 2017. The petrosal and bony labyrinth of Diplobune minor, an enigmatic Artiodactyla from the Oligocene of Western Europe. Journal of Morphology 278, 1168-1184.

Perrin W. F., 1975. Distribution and differentiation of populations of dolphins of the genus Stenella in the eastern tropical Pacific. Journal of Fisheries Research Board of Canada 32, 1059-106.

Perrin W. F, Würsig B., Thewissen J. G. M., 2009. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals - 2nd edition. Elsevier.

Shambaugh G. E., 1903. The distribution of blood-vessels in the labyrinth of the ear of Sus scrofa domesticus. Decennial Publication of the University of Chicago10, 137-154.

Schmitt A., Gheerbrant E., 2016. The ear region of earliest known elephant relatives: new light on the ancestral morphotype of proboscideans and afrotherians. Journal of anatomy 228(1), 137-152.

Shepardson B. L., 2013, Moai a New look at old faces. Rapanui Press, Easter Island.

Steadman D.W, Vargas Casanova P., Cristino Ferrandao C., 1994. Stratigraphy, chronology, and cultural context of an early faunal assemblage from Easter Island. Asian Perspectives 33(1), 79-96.

Wible J. R., 2010. Petrosal anatomy of the nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus Linneaus, 1758 (Mammalia, Xenarthra, Dasypodidae). Annals of the Carnegie Museum 79(1), 1–28.

Cited by:

Rachel Racicot (2022). Evolution of whale sensory ecology: Frontiers in nondestructive anatomical investigations. The Anatomical Record.

María Alejandra Rosa Esteves-Ponte, Gerardo González-Barba, Francisco Javier García-Rodríguez and John Scheibe (2022). Shape variability in the periotics of odontocetes (Cetacea) distributed along the Pacific coast of northern Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy.

Jorge Velez-Juarbe (2023). New heterodont odontocetes from the Oligocene Pysht Formation in Washington State, U.S.A., and a reevaluation of Simocetidae (Cetacea, Odontoceti). PeerJ.

Olivier Lambert, Gerhard Wanzenböck, Cathrin Pfaff, Stephen Louwye, Jürgen Kriwet and Felix G. Marx (2023). First eurhinodelphinid dolphin from the Paratethys reveals a new family of specialised echolocators. Historical Biology.