This is an artistic reconstruction of a mother and calf of Maiabalaena nesbittae nursing offshore of Oregon during the Oligocene, about 33 million years ago. While Maiabalaena would not have been able to chew or filter feed, muscle attachments on the bones of its throat indicate it likely had strong cheeks and a retractable tongue. These traits would have enabled it to suck water into its mouth, taking up fish and small squid in the process. The ability to suction feed would have rendered teeth, whose development requires a lot of energy to grow, unnecessary. The loss of teeth, then, appears to have set the evolutionary stage for the baleen, which the scientists estimate arose about 5 to 7 million years later.