April 24, 2011
What tales they tell of their former lives, these old bones of sirenians, relatives of today’s dugongs and manatees. And now, geologists have found, they tell of the waters in which they swam.
While researching the evolutionary ecology of ancient sirenians — commonly known as sea cows — scientist Mark Clementz and colleagues unexpectedly stumbled across data that could change the view of climate during the Eocene Epoch, some 50 million years ago.
Clementz, from the University of Wyoming, published the results in a paper in this week’s issue of the journal Science. [full story]
A fossil sirenian named Halitherium schinzi, shown at the Paris National Museum of Natural History. (Credit: Mark Clementz)