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Cenozoic Mammals of Africa$
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Lars Werdelin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257214

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257214.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2019

Sirenia

Sirenia

Chapter:
(p.146) (p.147) Fourteen Sirenia
Source:
Cenozoic Mammals of Africa
Author(s):

Daryl P. Domning

Iyad S. Zalmout

Philip D. Gingerich

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520257214.003.0014

The order Sirenia is the only extant group of mammals adapted to feed exclusively on aquatic plants. In view of the worldwide abundance of aquatic macrophytes and the few other large herbivores competing for this resource, it is noteworthy that Recent sirenians comprise only three genera and five species. One of these, Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) of the North Pacific, was exterminated by humans in the eighteenth century. Uniquely among sirenians, the Steller's sea cow was adapted to cold-temperate climates and a diet of kelp and other algae. All the living sirenians are tropical forms that feed preferentially on angiosperms, and this appears to have been the primitive condition for the order. The Indian Ocean and West Pacific tropics are today inhabited by a single species, Dugong dugon, distributed in nearshore marine waters from East Africa and the Red Sea to Japan, Micronesia, and Australia. There are four families of sirenians: Prorastomidae, Protosirenidae, Trichechidae, and Dugongidae. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of Sirenia.

Keywords:   Sirenia, paleontology, mammals, Steller's sea cow, Hydrodamalis gigas, angiosperms, Dugong dugon, sirenians, Protosirenidae, Trichechidae

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