|Allodesmus demerei |
Boessenecker & Churchill, 2018
The family Desmatophocidae represents an early radiation of extinct pinnipeds that peaked in diversity during the middle Miocene. Although represented by abundant well-preserved fossils, the taxonomy and evolutionary relationships of this family remain poorly known. Late Miocene desmatophocids have been recorded, although none have been formally described, preventing a thorough appraisal of their decline and extinction. We report the discovery of a new species, Allodesmus demerei sp. nov., represented by a partial skeleton with cranium, mandibles, and axial skeleton, from the upper Miocene Montesano Formation of Washington, prompting reinterpretation of desmatophocid taxonomy, phylogeny, and extinction. Phylogenetic analysis (95 characters, 26 taxa) found strong support for monophyletic Desmatophocidae and Allodesmus. Desmatophocidae was found as sister to Phocidae with poor support. Allodesmus demerei was placed within the Allodesmus as the sister taxon to Allodesmus kernensis. The geochronologically young age (10.5–9.1 Mya) of Al. demerei establishes this species as the last of the desmatophocid seals. The middle Miocene peak in desmatophocid diversity coincides with the middle Miocene climatic optimum, suggesting that declining sea surface temperature played a role in their decline and extinction. Walruses diversified and increased in body size during the mid- to late Miocene as desmatophocids declined, suggesting some form of ecological displacement.
Robert W. Boessenecker and Morgan Churchill. 2018. The Last of the Desmatophocid Seals: A New Species of Allodesmus from the upper Miocene of Washington, USA, and a revision of the taxonomy of Desmatophocidae. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. zlx098. DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx098
Remains found in Grays Harbor lead to discovery of new species kxro.com/remains-found-grays-harbor-lead-discovery-new-species/