Metaxytherium is the sister-group to the lineage containing Hydro

Metaxytherium is the sister-group to the lineage containing Hydrodamalis, so kelp foraging appears to have arisen during the middle to late Miocene. In the Trichechidae, the most primitive genus, Potamosiren, has low δ13C and δ18O values, consistent with foraging in freshwater ecosystems. Members of the genus Trichechus, including Talazoparib cost extant manatees, have very catholic dietary and habitat preferences, ranging from fully freshwater to fully marine (MacFadden et

al. 2004) (Fig. 6B). By the close of the Pliocene, these species were the only sirenians to persist in the Caribbean and West-Atlantic region. In the face of increasing environmental change, the generalized diet and habitat preferences of Trichechus may have favored its survival over that of the more specialized dugongids. In contrast, specimens of Metaxytherium sampled from the Mediterranean across the Messinian Salinity Crisis show a significant decrease in body size that is correlated with higher enamel

δ13C and δ18O values; these findings demonstrate that some dugongids were able to weather significant salinity changes while maintaining a constant diet through ecophenotypic dwarfing (Clementz et al. 2009). However, as in the Caribbean and West-Atlantic region, subsequent and significantly greater climate and environmental change at the end of the Pliocene may have been an important factor accounting for the eventual extinction of dugongids in the Mediterranean. Overall, isotopic data support the following scenario ever for sirenian evolution. Selleck MAPK Inhibitor Library The modest radiation of sirenians began in marine ecosystems focused on sea grass, and then expanded late in its history to include marine kelps and freshwater habitats and vegetation. Our final deep-time case study involves the evolution of aquatic habitat preferences and diets in cetaceans.

A series of papers (Thewissen et al. 1996, Roe et al. 1998, Clementz et al. 2006) has explored the ecology of Eocene-aged Archaeocete whales in five families: Pakicetidae, Ambulocetidae, Remingtonocetidae, Protocetidae, and Basilosauridae (see Thewissen and Williams 2002 for descriptions of each family). Pakicetus, a wolf-sized piscivore from Pakistan with cursorial fore and hind limbs, has low δ13C values, low mean δ18O values, and low δ18O variability, all consistent with an aquatic wading animal that fed on freshwater aquatic prey (Fig. 7). Ambulocetids were amphibious, sea-lion sized cetaceans, with large weight-bearing fore and hind limbs and large hands and feet modified for swimming. Despite being recovered from marginal marine deposits, these animals have mean δ18O values suggesting they ingested fresh water and low δ13C values consistent with freshwater aquatic prey. Remingtonocetids also had large hind limbs, but unlike ambulocetids, they had small eyes and long snouts.

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