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Diversity of late Neogene Monachinae (Carnivora, Phocidae) from the North Atlantic, with the description of two new species

  • Dewaele, Leonard
  • Peredo, Carlos Mauricio
  • Meyvisch, Pjotr
  • Louwye, Stephen
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2018
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.172437
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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While the diversity of 'southern seals', or Monachinae, in the North Atlantic realm is currently limited to the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, their diversity was much higher during the late Miocene and Pliocene. Although the fossil record of Monachinae from the North Atlantic is mainly composed of isolated specimens, many taxa have been erected on the basis of fragmentary and incomparable specimens. The humerus is commonly considered the most diagnostic postcranial bone. The research presented in this study limits the selection of type specimens for different fossil Monachinae to humeri and questions fossil taxa that have other types of bones as type specimens, such as for Terranectes parvus. In addition, it is essential that the humeri selected as type specimens are (almost) complete. This questions the validity of partial humeri selected as type specimens, such as for Terranectes magnus. This study revises Callophom obscure, Homiphoce capensis and Phophoca etrusca, all purportedly known from the Lee Creek Mine, Aurora, North Carolina, in addition to their respective type localities in Belgium, South Africa and Italy, respectively. C. obscure is retained as a mona chine seal taxon that lived both on the east coast of North America and in the North Sea Basin. However, FL capensis from North America cannot be identified beyond the genus level, and specimens previously assigned to Pl. etrusca from North America clearly belong to different taxa. Indeed, we also present new material and describe two new genera of late Miocene and Pliocene Monachinae from the east coast of North America: Auroraphoca atlantica nov. gen. et nov. sp., and Virginiaphoca magurai nov. gen. et nov. sp. This suggests less faunal interchange of late Neogene Monachinae between the east and west coasts of the North Atlantic than previously expected.

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