Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lost photos from the Smithsonian

I recently came across some photos that Ewan had emailed me a long time ago from our Smithsonian visit last fall, from the Garber oversize facility in Maryland.

This was my first time seeing a skeleton of a southern sea lion (Otaria byronia). Unfortunately, I didn't get much time to check out the skeleton of this or any other modern pinnipeds, as my offsite visits were focused on fossil and modern mysticetes relating to my Ph.D. research.

Another first: the totally bizarre skull of the Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica) from Indo-Pakistan. One of the few odontocetes with obvious heterodonty, and with strange bony crests on either side of the face (part of the maxilla) that extend dorsally and wrap around the lateral and dorsal sides of the melon; the function of this structure is still not entirely understood.


Bewildermunster said...

Wow, that skeleton is huge! I didn't know sea lions were that big. And kinda frightening!

Robert Boessenecker said...

Keep in mind that I'm also standing several feet in front of the skeleton, so it's actually a bit larger than that. Then again, I'm not exactly a very tall person.

Male Otaria byronia can grow to 9 feet and about 800 lbs (~3 meters, 350 kg for the non american readers). It's a big bruiser for sure, but still a guppy in comparison to the Steller's sea lion and the two elephant seals (and some of the fossil walruses from California and Oregon).