Drs. Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Assistant Curator of Marine Mammals, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and Aaron Wood, Director of the Iowa State Geology Field Station and lecturer in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, describe Central America’s oldest marine mammal in a new article of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The 20-million-year-old fossil sea cow, an herbivorous marine mammal related to the modern dugong of the Indo-Pacific region, was found along the margins of the Panama Canal in 2011. Representing a new species not previously known to science, the fossil sea cow lived during a time when Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean were joined by a Central American seaway. You can read more about this fossil discovery by reading a press release from the Florida Museum of Natural History, where the specimen is currently housed for future studies.