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Unlikely ancient walrus ate mammals

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/05/2016

The teeth of a preserved walrus fossil studied by New Zealand-led team of scientists has cast doubt on whether the ancient sea-dweller was a marine mammal eater.

The Otago University-led multinational team studied the enamel layer of an ancient walrus' teeth and found that was reasonably similar to modern New Zealand fur seals and sea lions, which eat fish.

There had been claims previously that ancient walruses ate marine mammals.

Study co-author Dr Carolina Loch says it is the first time that scientists had studied the enamel ultrastructure of fur seals and sea lions using electron microscopy.

"Features and structures of the enamel layer have long been associated with differences in diet and tooth usage among animals," Dr Loch said.

"(It) can also help in the understanding the relationships among fossil and living species."

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