Paleontologists found near Kerch the remains of several individuals of Late Miocene whales of the genus Zygiocetus, according to the Reports of the Russian Academy of Sciences, series "Life Sciences". Previously, these animals were not found in Crimea, however, in Adygea, there is a location of the remains of Zigiocet, very similar to the Kerch one. Scientists suggest that whales got there and washed ashore.
14-10 million years ago, in the Miocene, on the site of the Black, Caspian and Aral seas was the Sarmatian Sea, and the Crimea and the Caucasus were its islands. In the Sarmatian Sea, judging by the fossil remains from various locations, baleen whales from the Cetotherium family, relatives of the modern blue whale, lived. They were rather modest in size (3-4 meters long) and fed on small aquatic organisms, filtering them like today's baleen whales.
The Cetotherium family included the genus Zygiocetus, named after the zyg. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this word to denote the tribal associations of the Circassians and Abkhazians who lived in antiquity in the north-west of the Caucasus. It was there (on the territory of Adygea) in 2014 that Russian paleontologists first discovered a representative of the genus - Zygiocetus nartorum. The remains of several whales were located close to each other, and they were positioned as if the animals had once washed ashore.
In 2018, on the right bank of the Melek-Chesme River, five kilometers north-west of Kerch, employees of the Borisyak Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Vernadsky Crimean Federal University and the NAO Heritage of Kuban discovered in a limestone reef an almost complete skeleton of a cetacean and fragments of skeletons of three more individuals: parts of the skull, body of the lumbar vertebrae, bones of the forelimbs. They were located in the same way as the bones of the Zygiocetes in Adygea lay.
Cetotherium skeleton and reconstruction
The researchers assessed the location and shape of the frontal bone, eye sockets, superior occipital bone and other skull elements in the finds, and concluded that the animals belonged to the genus Zygiocetus. They also noted that the Crimean whales, like the Adyghe Zygiocetes, lack inter-parietal bones. The general shape of the skull and the structure of the bones adjacent to the inner ear also indicated a close relationship between the fossils.
Crimea was located in the central part of the Sarmatian Sea. The discovery of zygiocetes near Kerch indicates that these cetaceans were also found closer to the center of the reservoir, and not only near the Caucasus. And the fact that the remains of Zygiocetus lay near the Melek-Chesme River, just as the bones of animals of the same species were located in the Adyghe locality, suggests that Zygiocetus were often washed ashore in this region.
There are many speculations as to why whales are washed ashore. One of the more recent is that animals can be thrown off course by atmospheric radio frequency noise. But to postulate this, you need to know for sure that whales are capable of magnetoreception. In fact, its presence in cetaceans has not yet been established.