Continued excavation at the type locality of Ambulocetus natans led to the recovery of a majority of the axial skeleton of the holotype of this early Eocene cetacean, including both innominates, the sacrum, and most of the thoracic cage and thoracolumbar vertebral column. Additional appendicular, caudal, and cranial materials were also recovered, resulting in a specimen that is now approximately 80 percent complete. This new material allows refined interpretations of its functional morphology. Ambulocetus has a longer thoracolumbar column than that reported for later remingtonocetid and protocetid genera, suggesting that previous estimates of spinal length derived from models of mesonychid ancestry may be inaccurate. Ambulocetus also possesses a co-ossified ecto–mesocuneiform, a character found in some early and middle Eocene artiodactyls, but not mesonychids. New postcranial material provides further evidence of a systemic shift to aquatic locomotion.
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Vol. 22 • No. 2