Return to the Sea

Annalisa Berta

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520270572
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951440 | DOI:
Return to the Sea

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Return to the Sea portrays the life and evolutionary times of marine mammals from giant whales and sea cows that originated fifty-five million years ago and walked on land to deep-diving elephant seals and clam-eating walruses of modern times. Some animals, like the hippo-sized herbivorous desmostylians and aquatic sloths, were evolutionary experiments that did not survive. This fascinating account of the origin of various marine mammal lineages, written for the nonspecialist, is set against a backdrop of geologic time, changing climates and geography. The thread of evolution runs through the book and helps us to understand the present-day diversity of marine mammals and their responses to environmental challenges. The story of the evolution of these fascinating animals, their life and habits, offers a valuable perspective and, in some cases, lessons for the future. Berta also informs readers about current controversies in the field of marine mammalogy, presenting a balanced view based on careful evaluation and interpretation of the evidence. She explores patterns of change taking place today—conservation issues such as changing food webs and predator-prey relationships, habitat degradation, global warming, and the effects of humans on marine mammal communities. The future of marine mammals depends on each of us, scientists as well as the informed public, working together to avoid crises before they develop or to appropriately manage those that arise.

Keywords: marine mammals; evolution; diversity; adaptations; nonspecialist; conservation

Book.  224 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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Table of Contents

Marine Mammals in Return to the Sea


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