THE EARLIEST SIRENIAN (MAMMALIA: DUGONGIDAE) FROM THE EASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN

Authors


Abstract

The partial skull and mandible of an unidentified halitheriine dugongid, collected from the Early Miocene Nye Mudstone in Lincoln County, Oregon, USA, is the earliest record of the Sirenia in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It is probably earlier than Early or Middle Miocene sirenians recently found in Peru, and is definitely earlier than any known from California or Baja California. However, it appears to be slightly younger than fossil sirenian remains recently reported from Late Oligocene rocks in Japan. The Oregon specimen is also the most northern record of the Sirenia on the west coast of North America prior to the Pleistocene although other sirenians did evidently reach and surpass such latitudes by the Late Miocene when a dispersal took place from America to the North Pacific coasts of the Old World. The Oregon specimen probably represents sirenians that spread to the North Pacific from the Caribbean, quite possibly prior to the Miocene. The Nye Mudstone was deposited during the warmest period of the Neogene on the coast of Oregon, and it does not seem necessary to postulate a greater degree of cold-tolerance for the Oregon sirenian than is exhibited by living sea cows.

Ancillary