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Tuesday Tetrapod: Zalophus californianus

Posted by tigerhawkvok on December 30, 2009 01:58 in tuesday tetrapod

While I suppose my Tuesday Tetrapods should be 12:7:5:1 Aves:Non-avian sauropsids:lissamphibia:theria, where's the fun in that? For the forseeable future, I'll just run with percieved inequities.

Working to reduce one of those inequities, time to address ecosystems! We've painfully neglected the tetrapod return to water, so let's take a look today at Zalophus californianus, or the California Sea Lion:

Z. californianus

Z. californianus. Image hotlinked to Wikipedia until after 1/2/10.

Sea lions, including Z. californianus, are part of the otariid node (and thus are "eared seals"). Like other pinnipeds, they have finned feet that are highly modified for swimming, with earliest fossils from their lineage originating about 23 million years ago with Puijila darwini.

In particular, Z. californianus is commonly used with humans for entertainment and utilitarian purposes. They are the most common "seals" used in shows (rather than true seals, phocids), and are trained by the navy to retrieve enemy divers. They are rated IUCN Least Concern.

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Tuesday Tetrapod: Zalophus californianus | The Dichotomous Trekkie 2.0