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The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

ORDER PINNIPEDIA:

SEALS, WALRUSES, AND ALLIES

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.

Family Phocidae (seals)

Caribbean Monk Seal, Monachus tropicalis