The fur seal and the sea lion have been missing a piece of their magnificent history. But fortunately, it isn’t an issue anymore, thanks to the University of Wyoming that has made an important discovery that changes everything.Researcher Robert Boessenecker and Morgan Churchil, his partner, have found a fossil of Eotaria crypta. The name has its translation put together all the meanings:”dawn sea lion”. The UK Royal Society Journal Biology Letters is the one that has proudly published the report that has such a huge importance in the evolution of the species.
Fur seals bring along with their name a lot of mistery and curiosity. Robert Boessenecker talks about the fur seals as being just a little bit larger than a sea otter, but quite similar to a New Zeeland fur seal, that is the native one in the line.
Eotaria crypta wasn’t recognized from the beginning. When found, the scientists believed that is was a walrus fossil. The remains actually are a piece of a jaw and some teeth and it has been found in a rock formation in Southern California. The date that has been calculated gives a partial temporal expression to the fossil: it is believed to be 15-17 million year old. Also, the rock is not a recent discovery, but one of the 1980s, even if the information hasn’t been put together until now.
John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center is the present place where the fossil can be found and inspected at the moment because there is where Mr. Robert took it right after finding it. He made a public statement about the issue, claiming that because of this discovery, the line between the fur seal and the sea lion has dissappeared once and for all.
“Until now we had no fossil evidence for the five million years of fur seal and sea lion evolution. It is extremely satisfying to have remedied that.”
Furthermore. the researcher adds that Eoteria cripta’s status as a critical transactional fossil is revealed through its teeth which are something between the simplified teeth of the sea lions that exist nowadays and the complex bare-like teeth of the earliest pinnipeds that have ever been known to human kind. One of the greatest questions that researchers have to face right now it why is this the only fossil found in the region, taking into consideration that specific fossil exacavations have been made in that same area of California.
Image Source: National Geographic