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Graduate student makes major discovery about seal evolution
Date:2/19/2014

orphic, and we think this is because the water in those areas is quite nutrient rich. The pinnipeds there didn't have that selection pressure to form harem behaviour because of the wide availability of nutrients. Going forward, if the effect of climate change is increased water temperature in the Arctic and Antarctic, it would suggest that the nutrient levels will be reduced. This could put more pressure on pinnipeds in the polar regions areas to form colonies and, as a result, harem behaviour."

Cullen's research presents some of the earliest evidence in marine mammals of what Charles Darwin wrote about when positing his theories of sexual selection in evolution. There has been a relative lack of new data on sexual dimorphism in the fossil record until now.

"This paper shows that the fossil record can be really useful in answering evolutionary questions that could otherwise not be addressed," says Cullen. "It also shows that a combination of modern and fossil analysis is crucial to thoroughly addressing evolutionary problems. We were really lucky to have access to a specimen of this nature."


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Contact: Dan Smythe
dsmythe@mus-nature.ca
613-566-4781
Canadian Museum of Nature
Source:Eurekalert  

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