of Texas - Online Edition
SEALS, WALRUSES, AND
The Pinnipedia ("fin foot")
includes the so-called aquatic carnivores. In fact, some
mammalogists consider pinnipeds to be merely a subgroup
of the order Carnivora, and do not recognize the ordinal
classification of Pinnipedia.
In contrast to some aquatic true
Carnivora (i.e. otters), swimming in pinnipeds is
accomplished almost entirely by means of the front limbs.
The hands and feet are elongated, and the digits are
bound together by webs of skin. The tail is rudimentary.
Its function as a steering apparatus is taken over by the
backward-directed hind feet and the flipperlike front
feet. The dentition is of simple, peglike teeth.
The entire group is adapted to feeding
on fish, molluscs, and other aquatic animal life. The
order is worldwide in distribution, restricted largely,
of course, to the oceans and their borders. One species
has been recorded from Texas, but it is now extinct.
Caribbean Monk Seal, Monachus