Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Killing a name of an extinct sea cow species

Date:
April 2, 2014
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
Sirenians, or sea cows, are a particular group of mammals that superficially resembles whales in having, amongst other features, a streamlined-body and horizontal tail fluke. Though belonging to the so-called marine mammals, such as whales and seals, sea cows are members of a group having a single origin that includes their closest living relatives, the proboscideans (or elephants in the broader sense).

This image shows a typical find of a sea cow skeleton from ~ 32 Ma old sediments of Germany. This skeleton exposed in the Naturwissenschaftliche Museum Duisburg is mainly composed of vertebrae and ribs (skull on the left is reproduced) and was found in Duisburg by 1934.
Credit: Manja Voss; CC-BY 4.0

Sirenians, or sea cows, are a particular group of mammals that superficially resembles whales in having, amongst other features, a streamlined-body and horizontal tail fluke. Though belonging to the so-called marine mammals, such as whales and seals, sea cows are members of a group having a single origin that includes their closest living relatives, the proboscideans (or elephants in the broader sense).

Related Articles


Today, sirenians are known by only four species, but their fossil record is much more diverse documenting the transition from land-dwelling animals to fully aquatic ones. This makes fossil representatives of this group not only very fascinating, but also crucial for the understanding of the transition from life on land to the sea and the past diversity of the order Sirenia.

Considering the oldest known member of this order, Prorastomus from the Eocene (~50 Ma -- Millions of years before present) of Jamaica, first fully aquatic sea cows already occurred by approximately 42 Ma, which indicates a relatively fast transitional process. Later forms still retained a small femur, which however was no more visible outside. Amongst such sirenians, one species was distributed in a shallow marine area, now occupied by Germany and Belgium, about 30 Millions of years ago in the early Oligocene. This respective species was hitherto known as Halitherium schinzii and believed to represent the only sea cow that evolved in that region to that time.

In a recent publication of the open access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution, Manja Voss from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin deals with a contrasting hypothesis of two distinct species in the early Oligocene of Central Europe. Considering the always incomplete fossil record, palaeontologists face the challenge to determine species on a material basis being as informative as possible. In the present study Manja Voss provides arguments why this is not the case with the so-called holotype, a single tooth, of H. schinzii and explains why this species name is not applicable to any currently known sirenian.

Additionally, Manja Voss emphasises that consequences are to be drawn including a morphological re-assessment of skeletal material originally assigned to this species and the requirement of new generic names for all species formerly grouped under Halitherium. Moreover, it is acknowledged that this genus does not only include unrelated species, but is also the name giving basis for a subfamily, the Halitheriinae, that is likewise far from forming a single entity. Therefore, the proposed rejection of these specific termini shall help to better handle the known diversity of the sirenian order.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Manja Voss. On the invalidity ofHalitherium schinziiKaup, 1838 (Mammalia, Sirenia), with comments on systematic consequences. Zoosystematics and Evolution, 2014; 90 (1): 87 DOI: 10.3897/zse.90.7421

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Killing a name of an extinct sea cow species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402134000.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2014, April 2). Killing a name of an extinct sea cow species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402134000.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Killing a name of an extinct sea cow species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402134000.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) — Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) — If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins