Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Puijila darwini
Puijila darwini skeleton
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family ?
Genus Puijila
Species Puijila darwini
Conservation Status

Puijila darwini is the only species in Puijila genus. It is an extinct species of seal which lived during the Miocene epoch about 21 to 24 million years ago. The one known specimen is a nearly complete fossilised skeleton. It is being housed at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario. We don't know yet in which family it's included.


Approximately a metre (three feet) in length, the animal possessed only minimal physical adaptations for swimming. Unlike modern pinnipeds, it did not have flippers and its overall form was otter-like, albeit more specialized; its skull and teeth are the features that most clearly indicate that it is a seal. It is considered to be the most primitive member of the seal family yet found. The genus name is an Inuktitut word for a young seal; the species name honours the English naturalist Charles Darwin.


This novel species was discovered in 2007 by Natalia Rybczynski and her team using surface collection and screening at an early Miocene lake deposit of the Haughton Formation of Devon Island in Nunavut, Canada. The palaeobotanical record suggests that the palaeoenvironment around the lake comprised a forest community transitional between a boreal and a conifer–hardwood forest, in a cool temperate, coastal climate with moderate winters. Puijila darwini is the first mammalian carnivore found in the Haughton lake deposits. This also gives an indication that the entire pinniped family may have originated in the Arctic.