Dinopedia
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Pleistocene New Zealand sea lion
IMG 8053
A holotype braincase of Neophoca palatina (bottom), a cast of the holotype (left), and an Arctocephalus skull (right).
Conservation status
Fossil
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Subfamily: Otariinae
Genus: Neophoca
Species: N. palatina
Binomial name
Neophoca palatina
King, 1983

Pleistocene New Zealand sea lion (Neophoca palatina) is an extinct species of sea lion known from a nearly-complete adult male skull found at Ohope Beach on the North Island in 1937. It was found in a stratum from the late Castlecliffian stage, suggesting an approximate age of 400,000 years. It was not recognised as representing a new species until 1983, distinguishable from the extant Australian sea lion and New Zealand sea lion by the short palate (leading Dr. J. A. Berry to suggest the species name), lack of processes on the ethmoid bulla and the very wide basiocciptal. A more advanced morphometric analysis in 2016 strongly confirmed that the skull represented a distinct species, closely related to the Australian sea lion. Paleoclimate reconstructions suggest that N. palatina was more tolerant of cold water temperatures than N. cinerea, the only other known member of the genus.

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