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JOURNAL ARTICLE

First adequately-known quadrupedal sirenian from Eurasia (Eocene, Bay of Biscay, Huesca, northeastern Spain)

Ester Díaz-Berenguer, Ainara Badiola, Miguel Moreno-Azanza, José Ignacio Canudo
Scientific Reports 2018 March 23, 8 (1): 5127
29572454
Sirenians are the only extant herbivorous mammals fully adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. They originated in Africa during the Paleocene from an undetermined clade of afrotherian mammals, and by the end of the Eocene they were widely distributed across the tropical latitudes. Here we introduce Sobrarbesiren cardieli gen. et sp. nov. It is the first adequately-known quadrupedal sirenian from Eurasia and the oldest record of this clade from western Europe. Fossils have been recovered from the middle Lutetian (SBZ15) site of Castejón de Sobrarbe-41 (Huesca, Spain), and comprise many cranial and postcranial remains, including pelvic girdle and hind limb bones, from at least six sirenian individuals of different ontogenetic stages. Sobrarbesiren shows a suite of characters previously considered synapomorphies of different clades of derived sirenians, such as the presence of the processus retroversus of the squamosal and the pterygoid fossa, combined with ancestral characters such as the presence of an alisphenoid canal, a permanent P5, at least two sacral vertebrae, a primitive pelvis and functional femora and fibulae. Sobrarbesiren is recovered as the sister taxon of Dugongidae and represents a transitional stage of adaptation to aquatic life between the amphibious quadrupedal prorastomids and the aquatic quadrupedal protosirenids.

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