Puijila and the evolution of pinnipeds
In 2007, Natalia led a field team, in collaboration with Mary Dawson (Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Paleobiology), to the Haughton crater (Devon Island, Nunavut). From 2007 to 2010 the team discovered the remains of a prehistoric walking seal, Puijila darwini. This anatomical “missing link" may provide evidence for understanding how the ancestors to seals, sea lions and walruses moved from land to sea, and how their legs evolved into flippers.
Multiple Carleton University grad students have done research on various research questions related to the evolution of pinnipeds (see J. Northover and T. Cullen in the “students” section). Currently Ryan Paterson is working on a description of Puijila and also aspects of its function morphology and phylogenetic position.
Cullen, T.M., D. Fraser, N. Rybczynski, and C. Schroder-Adams, 2014. Early evolution of sexual dimorphism and polygyny in Pinnipedia. Evolution 68(5):1469-1484. DOI: 10.1111/evo.12360
Rybczynski, N., M.R. Dawson and R.H. Tedford. 2009. A semi-aquatic Arctic mammalian carnivore from the Miocene Epoch and origin of Pinnipedia. Nature. 458: 1021-1024