Walking seal.

Other bloggers and authors have already covered the discovery of Puijila darwini by Rybczynski et al (2009), a transitional fossil (but not a lineal ancestor) between modern pinnipeds (seals and kin) and terrestrial mammals. See, e.g., Not Exactly Rocket Science, Origins, Laelaps, ScienceNOW, Discovery Channel, ScienceNews, Scientific American, and so on…

For lots of information, see the resources provided by the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Like Tiktaalik, this species was discovered in the Canadian Arctic and bears an Inuktitut name.

Etymology. Puijila (Inuktitut): young sea mammal, often referring to a seal; darwini: for Charles Darwin, who wrote with his usual prescience, “A strictly terrestrial animal, by occasionally hunting for food in shallow water, then in streams or lakes, might at last be converted into an animal so thoroughly aquatic as to brave the open ocean”.

Here’s something the other bloggers probably cannot say, though: I have been to Devon Island where it was located!

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