The single member of this family, the pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata), is found in the cold-temperate waters of the southern hemisphere. Usually included in the family Balaenidae in the past, they differ from members of that family in several ways. They are small, only up to about 6 m. The body is gray, lacking the striking black and white markings common in balaenids. Caperea marginata has, however, a strikingly white mouth and tongue. It also has a small, falcate dorsal fin.
This species is poorly known. It probably does not school or migrate long distances. It is believed to feed on copepods. The species is too uncommon to have been of much importance to commercial whalers.
References and literature cited:
Nowak, R.M. and J.L. Paradiso. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World, 4th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.
Savage, R. J. G. and M. R. Long. 1986. Mammal Evolution: An Illustrated Guide. Facts on File Publications, UK. 251 pp.
Rice, D. W. 1984. Cetaceans. Pp. 447-490 in Anderson, S. and J. K. Jones, Jr. (eds). Orders and Families of Recent Mammals of the World. John Wiley and Sons, N.Y. xii+686 pp.
Vaughan, T. A. 1986. Mammalogy. Third Edition. Saunders College Publishing, N.Y. vii+576 pp.
Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of the World, A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. 2nd edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington. xviii+1206 pp.
Phil Myers (author), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate