The origin of elephant seals: implications of a fragmentary late Pliocene seal (Phocidae: Miroungini) from New Zealand

  title={The origin of elephant seals: implications of a fragmentary late Pliocene seal (Phocidae: Miroungini) from New Zealand},
  author={Rw Boessenecker and Morgan Churchill},
  journal={New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics},
  pages={544 - 550}
ABSTRACT Elephant seals (Phocidae: Miroungini) are conspicuous members of modern marine mammal communities but have a meagre fossil record, obscuring the origins of this charismatic clade. We describe the oldest record for the group, CD 35, representing fragments of the maxilla, squamosal, as well as the P2, P3, and possible P1 from the Late Pliocene of the Petane Formation of New Zealand. This fossil possesses several features found only in Miroungini, including simplified triple-cusped teeth… 

New Seal (Carnivora, Phocidae) Record from the Late Miocene–Pliocene of Guafo Island, Southern Chile

Abstract. Several remains of fossil phocids (i.e., true seals) have been consistently reported from the Late Miocene and Pliocene strata from the southwestern coast of South America. These fossils,

A new Early Pliocene record of the toothless walrus Valenictus (Carnivora, Odobenidae) from the Purisima Formation of Northern California

An isolated astragalus from lower Pliocene sediments of the Purisima Formation of northern California matches the highly derived morphology of Valenictus chulavistensis, and is identifiable as Valenictsus sp.

Early monk seals (Monachinae: Monachini) from the late Miocene–early Pliocene of Australia

Despite decades of research, the systematics of extinct true seals (Phocidae) is still overly reliant on morphological data from extant taxa. As a result, monk seals (Monachini) have been interpreted

A new large-bodied Pliocene seal with unusual cutting teeth

An ancestral state estimation of body length indicates that monachines did not have a remarkable size increase until the evolution of the lobodontins and miroungins, and a parsimony phylogenetic analysis found S. magnus is a crown monachine.

Pliocene Monachine Seal (Pinnipedia: Phocidae) from Australia Constrains Timing of Pinniped Turnover in the Southern Hemisphere

ABSTRACT A turnover of the pinniped fauna took place in the Southern Hemisphere during the Pliocene, based on evidence from South America and South Africa. This resulted in the extinction of early

Mandibular Morphology of the Mid-Miocene Seal Devinophoca claytoni (Carnivora, Phocidae, Devinophocinae)

Morphological assessments reveal that the D. claytoni mandible has posterior alveoli larger than anterior; flat mandibular body low in height;Alveoli of p4 larger than m1; and a unique devinophocine combination of incisors (I3/1) that differs from those in the extant subfamilies Cystophorinae, Monachinae and Phocinae (I2/2).

Pinniped (Mammalia: Carnivora) fossils from Black Rock, a new late Neogene vertebrate locality in Victoria, Australia

The fossil record of true seals (Family Phocidae) is notoriously poorly preserved, most notably in the Southern Hemisphere. This fossil record bias has made it difficult to assess whether populations

Colonization of the ancient southern oceans by small-sized Phocidae: new evidence from Australia

The description of this assemblage is consistent with the Neogene pinniped fauna of Australia being exclusively monachine before the arrival of otariids (fur seals and sea lions), and suggests that small archaic phocids potentially used the Southern Ocean as a means of dispersal before the arrived of extant Antarctic monachines.

On Prophoca and Leptophoca (Pinnipedia, Phocidae) from the Miocene of the North Atlantic realm: redescription, phylogenetic affinities and paleobiogeographic implications

Morphological features of the appendicular skeleton indicate that Prophoca rousseaui and Leptophoca proxima have archaic locomotory modes, retaining a more prominent use of the fore flipper for aquatic propulsion than extant Phocidae.

First monk seal from the Southern Hemisphere rewrites the evolutionary history of true seals

A new species of extinct monk seal from the Pliocene of New Zealand is described, the first of its kind from the Southern Hemisphere, based on one of the best-preserved and richest samples of seal fossils worldwide.




Findings indicate that the Subfamily Cystophorinae includes not only elephant and hooded seals, but also the two new Middle Sarmatian pachyosteosclerotic seals.

A new durophagous phocid (Mammalia: Carnivora) from the late Neogene of Peru and considerations on monachine seals phylogeny

A cladistic analysis including characters from the literature as well as original ones places Hadrokirus among lobodontines in a clade with Piscophoca pacifica, another phocid from the Pisco Formation and supports the monophyly of both Phocinae and Monachinae.

A Reevaluation of Pliophoca etrusca (Pinnipedia, Phocidae) from the Pliocene of Italy: Phylogenetic and Biogeographic Implications

ABSTRACT— The holotype of Pliophoca etrusca, a partial skeleton from the late Pliocene (Piacenzian) of central Italy, is redescribed. Referred material from the Pliocene of Italy, France, and Spain

Review of fossil phocid and otariid seals from the southern and western coasts of South Africa

ABSTRACT Remains of phocid and otariid seals from published and unpublished palaeontological and archaeological occurrences on the South African coast are reviewed. New phocid material supports

Pinniped phylogeny and a new hypothesis for their origin and dispersal.

Where were the northern elephant seals? Holocene archaeology and biogeography of Mirounga angustirostris

Driven to the brink of extinction during the nineteenth century commercial fur and oil trade, northern elephant seal (NES, Mirounga angustirostris) populations now exceed 100 000 animals in the

Elephant Seals: Mirounga angustirostris and M. leonina

Colonization of the Southern Hemisphere by fur seals and sea lions (Carnivora: Otariidae) revealed by combined evidence phylogenetic and Bayesian biogeographical analysis

It is indicated that the distribution of fur seals and sea lions is tightly linked to sea surface temperature and productivity, and suggests that otariids may be vulnerable to future anthropogenic climate change.

A new marine vertebrate assemblage from the Late Neogene Purisima Formation in Central California, part II: Pinnipeds and Cetaceans

The aggregate Pliocene marine mammal assemblage from eastern North Pacific (ENP) shares little in common with the modern fauna, and is mostly composed of extinct genera; notably, phocoenids and odobenids were more diverse than in the ENP today.


This study evaluates a comprehensive set of cranial, postcranial, and soft anatomical characters to infer interrelationships among extant species and several well-known fossil phocoenids, using two different methods to analyze polymorphic data: polymorphic coding and frequency step matrix.