Pinniped Craniofacial Musculature Provides Insight on Its Role in Aquatic Feeding
Published:02 Nov.2021    Source:Baylor University

Pinnipeds -- a group including seals, sea lions and walruses -- are relatively recently derived marine mammals that evolved from terrestrial carnivorans and reentered the marine environment. Their recent adaptations to an amphibious lifestyle make their evolutionary anatomy of particular interest to Baylor University researcher Sarah Kienle, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology.

"I'm fascinated by how animals feed underwater," Kienle said. "Mammals that have reinvaded the marine environment -- whales, dolphins, pinnipeds, sea otters and polar bears -- are all carnivores that have converged on the same feeding strategies when entering the water environment. You're also getting the repeated evolution of suction feeding and filter feeding. It's pretty amazing to see these independent lineages all converging on similar feeding strategies -- suction feeding, biting and filter feeding."