One expert called it "a fantastic discovery" that fills a crucial gap in the fossil record.Yet another link in the chain. Yay!
The 23 million-year-old creature was not a direct ancestor of today's seals, sea lions and walruses, a group known collectively as pinnipeds. It's from a different branch. But it does show what an early direct ancestor looked like, said researcher Natalia Rybczynski.
The fossil was found onin the Canadian Arctic, bolstering the notion that the far north was an early center of pinniped evolution, she said.
Rybczynski, a researcher at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, and colleagues from the United States report the find in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
They named the creature Puijila darwini ("pew-YEE-lah dar-WIN-eye"). That combines an Inuit word for "young sea mammal," often a seal, with an homage to. The famed naturalist had written that a land animal "by occasionally hunting for food in shallow water, then in streams or lakes, might at last be converted into an animal so thoroughly aquatic as to brave the open ocean."
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The Link Between Land Animals and Seals/Walruses
Yahoo News is reporting the discovery of an otter-like animal that was one of the animals making the transition back to water: