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Animal Database
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Animal Database
Enaliarctidae
Enaliarctos emlongi-Macrodelphinus
Enaliarctos emlongi and Macrodelphinus(Cetacea)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family †Enaliarctidae

Enaliarctidae is an extinct family of pinniped from the order Carnivora with only 1 genus,the Enaliarctos. The five species in the genus Enaliarctos represented the oldest known pinniped fossils, having been recovered from late Oligocene and early Miocene (ca. 24-22 million years ago) strata of California and Oregon. Enaliarctos has been heralded as the ancestor of all known pinnipeds.

Description[]

It had a short tail and developed limbs with webbed feet. Unlike modern sea lions, it had a set of slicing carnassials; the presence of slicing (rather than purely piercing teeth in modern fish-eating pinnipeds) suggests that Enaliarctos needed to return to shore with prey items in order to masticate and ingest them. Still, Enaliarctos had some sea lion-like characteristics such as large eyes, sensitive whiskers, and a specialized inner ear for hearing underwater.

Evolution[]

Enaliarctos has been heralded as the ancestor of all known pinnipeds, including the families Otariidae (fur seals and sea lions), Desmatophocidae (extinct seal convergent pinnipeds), Phocidae (true seals), and Odobenidae (walruses). Investigations of the biomechanics of Enaliarctos indicate that it used both its forelimbs and hindlimbs during swimming. Modern fur seals and sea lions only use their forelimbs, while true seals primarily use their hindlimbs for aquatic propulsion; lastly, the extant walrus uses both fore- and hindlimbs for swimming. It has been postulated that the condition in Enaliarctos is ancestral for all pinnipeds, and that forelimb swimming was lost in true seals, while hindlimb swimming was lost in fur seals and sea lions. This is significant because there has been considerable debate as to whether pinnipeds share common ancestry. Interpretation of Enaliarctos indicates that all pinnipeds share a common ancestor (which, if it was not Enaliarctos, must have been something very similar, such as the more newly discovered Puijila darwini.)

Species

E. mealsi 
E. barnesi
E. emlongi
E. mitchelli
E. tedfordi

Gallery[]

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