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Abstract - The family Cetorhinidae Gill includes one extant genus, Cetorhinus Blainville, and a single living species, the basking shark, C. maximus (Gunnerus). Basking sharks are coastal pelagic to oceanic with circumglobal distribution in boreal to warm-temperate waters of the continental and insular shelves. Second only in size to the whale shark, Rhincodon typus, basking sharks attain a maximum total length of 12 to 15 m (although generally not exceeding 9.8 m), and are planktivorous, feeding by filtering copepods, barnacles, decapod larvae and fish eggs from the water.

The first Tertiary records of undisputed cetorhinids are from the middle Eocene of Antarctica, possibly the middle Eocene of Russia, and the late Eocene of Oregon. Eocene cetorhinids are referred to Keasius taylori, and Oligocene through early Miocene basking sharks are traditionally assigned to Keasius parvus. The earliest occurrence of Cetorhinus in the northeastern Pacific is early Miocene, and fossils attributed to this genus are relatively common in middle Miocene through Pleistocene marine sediments of Oregon, California, and Baja California, Mexico. Late Miocene and younger Cetorhinus are conventionally placed in the extant species, C. maximus.

Late Miocene fossils of a basking shark from the Coos Conglomerate Member of the Empire Formation, Oregon, were collected in 1972 by students from the University of California, Berkeley. Associated vertebrae and gill rakers compare favorably in size and overall morphology with those of adult Recent Cetorhinus maximus. Based on correlations of vertebral and gill raker dimensions with the total length for Recent C. maximus, the Empire basking shark is estimated to have been between 4.5 and 5.75+ m in total length. Although gill rakers and vertebrae from the Empire Formation compare favorably with those of C. maximus, a definitive identification requires dentition.

The occurrence of Cetorhinus cf. C. maximus in the late Miocene of Oregon is consistent with other late Miocene records of this species in California and Chile. C. maximus may range no earlier than late Miocene in the eastern North Pacific.

Empire Map Fig 1 REVISED FINAL.jpg (181 kB)
Figure 1. Map of Coos Bay, Oregon showing location of Fossil Point and UCMP locality V-6726 ( U.S.G.S. Empire 15’ Quadrangle, 1955 edition).

Empire Figure 2 REVISED FINAL .jpg (410 kB)
Figure 2. A, Cetorhinus gill raker orientation nomenclature. Base of gill raker defined by dashed box. fil = filament; scale line = 10 mm. B, gill raker base terminology: bas = basal attachment surface, bight = area between medial projection of base and filament, dpb = distal protuberance of base, fil = filament, for = foramina within osteodentine of basal attachment surface, mlt = median longitudinal trough, mpb = medial projection of base, osd = osteodentine of basal attachment surface, w = basal width. Scale line = 5 mm.

Empire Figure 3 REVISED FINAL.jpg (810 kB)
Figure 3. Cetorhinus cf. C. maximus, UCMP 77642. Acid etched calcareous concretion from the Coos Conglomerate Member of the Empire Formation, UCMP Locality V-6726, Fossil Point, Coos County, Oregon. a, transverse vertebral section showing concentric calcifications of intermedialia; b, intermediate-sized vertebra showing intervertebral surface and radial calcifications on broken surface (upper left margin of vertebra); c, same as “b” but smaller and also preserves radial calcifications; d, fragmentary gill raker filaments; e, incomplete gill raker with well-preserved base. Scale line = 2 cm.

Empire Fig 4 REVISED FINAL.jpg (1350 kB)
Figure 4. Cetorhinus cf. C. maximus. Acidized transverse section through largest vertebra in UCMP 77642, showing calcifications of the intermedialia. bd = basidorsal insertions; bv = basiventral insertion; ci = calcified wedge face of intermediale; ct = calcified tube; cc = corpus calcareum, primary double cone calcification; n = passage of notochord; p = uncalcified cartilaginous part of the intermediale; p’ = calcified concentric lamellae of the Intermedialia. Scale line = 1 cm.

Empire Fig 5 REVISED FINAL.jpg (314 kB)
Figure 5. Cetorhinus cf. C. maximus, UCMP 77642. Exposed concentric lamellae (p’) along broken section of vertebrae, “C” (Figure 3c) showing numerous perforations (lp = lamellar perforations) and radial (r) calcifications. Scale line = 1 cm.

Empire Fig 6 REVISED FINAL.jpg (164 kB)
Figure 6. a – d, Cetorhinus cf. C. maximus gill rakers (UCMP 77642) associated with vertebrae from the Empire Formation Coos Conglomerate. Scale line = 2 mm.

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