; order Carnivora, suborder Pinnipedia (or Caniformia)
A family of marine mammals that have small external ears, a short tail, and hind limbs that can be turned forward to aid movement on land. They are less fully adapted to aquatic life and are considered to be evolutionarily more primitive than the Phocidae, to which they may not be related closely, having, according to some authorities, arisen independently from canid stock. They may have first appeared on the shores of the Pacific during the lower Miocene. Today they are distributed on Pacific and S. Atlantic coasts and on many islands in the southern hemisphere. There are six genera and about 14 species.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.