Journal Article A New Late Miocene Odobenid (Mammalia: Carnivora) from Hokkaido, Japan Suggests Rapid Diversification of Basal Miocene Odobenids

Tanaka, Yoshihiro  ,  Kohno, Naoki

10 ( 8 )  , p.e0131856 , 2015-08-05 , Public Library of Science
The modern walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, is specialized and only extant member of the family Odobenidae. They were much more diversified in the past, and at least 16 genera and 20 species of fossil walruses have been known. Although their diversity increased in the late Miocene and Pliocene (around 8-2 Million years ago), older records are poorly known. A new genus and species of archaic odobenid, Archaeodobenus akamatsui, gen.etsp.nov. from the late Miocene (ca. 10.0-9.5 Ma) top of the Ichibangawa Formation, Hokkaido, northern Japan, suggests rapid diversification of basal Miocene walruses. Archaeodobenus akamatsui is the contemporaneous Pseudotaria muramotoi from the same formation, but they are distinguishable from each other in size and shape of the occipital condyle, foramen magnum and mastoid process of the cranium, and other postcranial features. Based on our phylogenetic analysis, A. akamatsui might have split from P. muramotoi at the late Miocene in the western North Pacific. This rapid diversification of the archaic odobenids occurred with a combination of marine regression and transgression, which provided geological isolation among the common ancestors of extinct odobenids.

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