Finding Family for Extinct Seals – #365papers – 2018 – 5

Boessenecker and Churchill, 2018, The last of the desmatophocid seals: a new species of Allodesmus from the Upper Miocene of Washington, USA, and a revision of the taxonomy of Desmatophocidae, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

What’s it about?

This paper first describes a new species of seal and then goes on to show where that seal, and the family it is in (the Desmatopocidae), fit within the evolutionary sequence of modern seals.

Why does it matter?

The Desmatopocidae look superficially like modern seals, but may or may not actually be directly related. Study of these specimens can show whether modern seals are a sister group to Desmatopocidae or not. Understanding this relationship can also help us understand why the Desmatopocidae went extinct.

Why did I read this?

I don’t know much about the fossil record of seals, so I couldn’t resist. Plus, skulls.

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