Apr 22, 2009 | 3
It's long been assumed that marine mammals in the pinniped group – seals, sea lions and walrus – evolved from a land-based common ancestor, but until now, no definitive fossil evidence had materialized.
A newly discovered species, Puijila darwini, which lived in the Artic during the Miocene (23 to 5 million years ago), promises to be that missing link, reports a study published online today in Nature. The well-preserved skeleton was found on Devon Island in Nunavut, Canada, an area that would have had a much more temperate climate when the P. darwini roamed the region.
"Puijila is the evolutionary evidence we have been lacking for so long," Mary Dawson, a curator emeritus of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, said in a statement.
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