Monday, January 21, 2013

Was Pelagiarctos a "killer" walrus? part 2: new publication in PLOS

Last thursday my new study which I collaborated with Morgan Churchill (University of Wyoming) on was published in PLOS One, regarding new fossil material of Pelagiarctos from the "Topanga" Formation of Orange County, California. There has been quite a bit of buzz about it, and it's gotten a surprising amount of media attention. To summarize it in one sentence - we describe the new material, reanalyze the paleoecological hypothesis of Barnes (1988), concluded it was not a specialized macrophagous predator, and conducted a phylogenetic analysis of the Odobenidae (walruses).

Brian Switek was kind enough to cover it on Laelaps, which you can see here. Also, there is an author spotlight on the PLOS EveryONE blog, viewable here.

Part of the new specimen of Pelagiarctos, which Tom Deméré (San Diego Natural History Museum) invited us to study.
Life restoration of Pelagiarctos, which I did last fall in my spare time. More on how I put this together at a later point.

This has been covered by a ton of news outlets, including the University of Otago news service, ScienceDaily, LiveScience, MSNBC, NBC, Huffington Post, Cosmos, Yahoo News, and even Fox News (perhaps a dubious honor...).

The full article can be viewed here at

Boessenecker, R.W. and M. Churchill. 2013. A reevaluation of the morphology, paleoecology, and phylogenetic relationships of the enigmatic walrus Pelagiarctos. PLoS One 8(1) e54311. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054311.

And, the morphobank account is available here.

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