It’s yet another transitional fossil, everyone! Oooh and aaah over it, and laugh when the creationists scramble to pave it over with excuses.
What we have is a 23 million year old mammal from the Canadian arctic that would have looked rather like a seal in life…with a prominent exception. No flippers, instead having very large feet that were probably webbed. This is a walking seal.
What it tells us is that marine pinnipeds almost certainly had an origin in the arctic, derived from terrestrial and semi-aquatic forms — these were more otter-like animals.
You’ll want to learn more about this beautiful creature. There is a website all about Puijila (in English, French, and Inuktitut) where you can find all kinds of images…and you can also find out how to pronounce “Puijila“, something we’re all going to have to practice. Who knew paleontology was going to lead us all into learning a few words of Inuktitut?
Rybczynski N, Dawson MR, Tedford RH (2009) A semi-aquatic Arctic mammalian carnivore from the
Miocene epoch and origin of Pinnipedia. Nature 458:1021-1024.