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Eared seals
Fossil range: 12–0 Ma
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Late Miocene to Recent
An Australian Sea Lion
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Superfamily: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Gray, 1825
Genera

Arctocephalus
Callorhinus
Eumetopias
Neophoca
Otaria
Phocarctos
Zalophus

Ear flaps of Otaria flavescens

The eared seals or otariids are marine mammals in the family Otariidae, one of three groupings of Pinnipeds. They comprise 16 species in seven genera commonly known either as sea lions or fur seals, distinct from true seals (phocids) and the Walrus (odobenids). Otariids are adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle, feeding and migrating in the water but breeding and resting on land or ice. They reside in subpolar, temperate, and equatorial waters throughout the Pacific and Southern oceans and the southern Indian and Atlantic oceans. They are conspicuously absent in the north Atlantic.

The name otariid comes from the Greek otarion meaning "little ear",[1] referring to the small but visible external ear flaps (pinnae) which can be used to distinguish them from the phocids.

Contents

Evolution and taxonomy

Along with the Phocidae and Odobenidae, the two other members of Pinnipedia, Otаriidae are descended from a common ancestor most closely related to modern bears.[2] There remains debate as to whether the phocids diverged from the otariids before or after the Walrus.

Otariids arose in the late Miocene (10-12 million years ago) in the North Pacific, diversifying rapidly into the Southern Hemisphere where most species now live. Callorhinus (Northern Fur Seal) has the oldest fossil record of any extant Otariid, extending to the middle Pliocene, and probably arose from the extinct fur seal Thalassoleon.

Traditionally, otariids had been subdivided into the fur seal (Arctocephalinae) and sea lion (Otariinae) subfamilies, with the major distinction between them being the presence of a thick underfur layer in the former. Under this categorization, the fur seals comprised two genera: Callorhinus in the North Pacific with a single representative, the Northern Fur Seal (C. ursinus) and eight species in the southern hemisphere under the genus Arctocephalus, while the sea lions comprise five species under five genera.[3] Recent analyses of the genetic evidence suggests that the Callorhinus ursinus is in fact more closely related to several sea lion species.[4] Furthermore, many of the Otariinae appear to be more phylogenetically distinct than previously assumed; for example, the Japanese Sea Lion (Zalophus japonicus) is now considered a separate species, rather than a subspecies of the California Sea Lion (Zalophus californius). In light of this evidence, the subfamily separation has been removed entirely and the Otariidae family has been organized into seven genera with 16 species and two subspecies.[5][6]

Nonetheless, because of morphological and behavioral similarity among the "fur seals" and "sea lions", these remain useful categories when discussing differences between groups of species.

Anatomy and appearance

Otariids have proportionately much larger foreflippers and pectoral muscles than phocids, and have the ability to turn their hind limbs forward and walk on all fours, making them far more maneuverable on land. They are generally considered to be less adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, since they breed primarily on land and haul out more frequently than true seals. However, they can attain higher bursts of speed and greater maneuverability in the water. Their swimming power derives from the use of flippers more so than the sinuous whole body movements typical of phocids and walruses.

Otariids are further distinguished by a more dog-like head, sharp, well-developed canines and the aforementioned visible external pinnae. Their postcanine teeth are generally simple and conical in shape. The dental formula for eared seals is: Upper: 3.1.4.1-3 / Lower: 2.1.4.1. Sea lions are covered with coarse guard hairs, while fur seals have a thick underfur, which have historically made them the objects of commercial exploitation.

Male otariids range in size from the 70 kg (150 lbs) Galapagos Fur Seal, smallest of all pinnipeds, to the over 1000 kg (2200 lbs) Steller Sea Lion. Mature male otariids weigh two to six times more than females with proportionately larger heads, necks, and chests, making them the most sexually dimorphic of all mammals.[7]

Behavior

All otariids breed on land during well-defined breeding seasons. Except for the Australian Sea Lion, which has an atypical 17.5 month breeding cycle, they form strictly annual aggregations on beaches or rocky substrates, often on islands. All species are polygynous; i.e. successful males breed with several females. In most species, males arrive at breeding sites first and establish and maintain territories through vocal and visual displays and occasional fighting. Females typically arrive on shore a day or so before giving birth. While considered social animals, there are no permanent hierarchies or statuses established on the colonies. The extent to which males control females or territories varies between species. Thus the Northern Fur Seal and the South American Sea Lion tend to herd specific harem-associated females, occasionally injuring them, while the Steller Sea Lion and the New Zealand Sea Lion control spatial territories but do not generally interfere with the movement of the females.

Otariids are carnivorous, feeding on fish, squid and krill. Sea lions tend to feed closer to shore in upwelling zones feeding on larger fish while the smaller fur seals tend to take longer, offshore foraging trips and can subsist on large numbers of smaller prey items. They are visual feeders and some females are capable of dives up to 400 m (1300 ft).

Species

Notes

  1. ^ “Otary, n., etymology of” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. http://dictionary.oed.com/ Accessed November 2007
  2. ^ Lento, G.M., Hickson, R.E., Chambers, G.K., Penny, D. (1 January 1995). "Use of spectral analysis to test hypotheses on the origin of pinnipeds". Molecular Biology and Evolution 12 (1): 28–52. PMID 7877495. http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/12/1/28.  
  3. ^ J.E. King (1983). Seals of the World (2nd ed.). New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0702216947.  
  4. ^ Wynen, L (2001). "Phylogenetic relationships within the eared seals (Otariidae: Carnivora): implications for the historical biogeography of the family". Mol. Phylog. Evol. 21: 270–284. doi:10.1006/mpev.2001.1012.  
  5. ^ Brunner, S. (2003). "Fur seals and sea lions (Otariidae): identification of species and taxonomic review". Systematics and Biodiversity 1 (3): 339–439. doi:10.1017/S147720000300121X. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=198243.  
  6. ^ Otariidae (TSN 180615). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved on November 2007.
  7. ^ Weckerly, FW (1998). "Sexual-size dimorphism: influence of mass and mating systems in the most dimorphic mammals.". Journal of Mammalogy 79 (1): 33–42. doi:10.2307/1382840.  

Further reading

  • Berta, A., and L. Sumich (1999) Marine Mammals: Evolutionary Biology. San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Gentry, R. L (1998) Behavior and Ecology of the Northern Fur Seal. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Perrin, W. F., B. Würsig, and J. G. M. Thewissen (2002) Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Riedman, M. (1990) The Pinnipeds: Seals, Sea Lions and Walruses. Berkeley: University of California Press.

External links

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Simple English

Walrus
File:Neophoca
An Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Superfamily: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Gray, 1825

The eared seals or otariids are marine mammals of the family Otariidae, one of the three pinniped families.

Taxonomy

  • Family Otariidae (Eared seals)
    • Genus Arctocephalus (Fur seals)
    • Genus Callorhinus
      • Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus)
    • Genus Eumetopias
      • Steller Sea Lion or Northern Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus)
    • Genus Neophoca
      • Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea)
    • Genus Otaria
      • South American Sea Lion or Southern Sea Lion (Otaria flavescens, formerly Otaria byronia)
    • Genus Phocarctos
      • New Zealand Sea Lion (Phocarctos hookeri)
    • Genus Zalophus
      • California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

Other websites

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Look up Otariidae in Wikispecies, a directory of species


frr:Siabeeren an sialööwen


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