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Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Lobodon carcinophagus

The Crabeater Seal, Lobodon carcinophagus, is one of the most remarkable, though least known, of the mammals of the world.

Its population probably numbers between 15 and 40 million animals, making it one of the most abundant large animals in the world.

More than one in every two seals in the world is a Crabeater Seal and the population biomass of Crabeaters is about four times that of all other pinnipeds put together †.

Its most unusual mulltilobed teeth enable this species to sieve krill from the water.

Its dentition looks like a perfect strainer, but how it operates in detail is still unknown. The food of Crabeater Seals consists 98 % of krill, Euphausia superba. The seals consume over 120 million tonnes of krill each year. They live and reproduce in the pack ice zone around Antarctica.

Females are up to 200 cm length and 227 kg in weight.

schematic of skull

Crabeater Seals colonized Antarctica during the late Miocene or early Pliocene (15 - 25 million years ago), at a time when the region was much warmer than today. The evolution into this strange, successful and abundant animal can be taken as a token of the bounty and continuity of their food krill.

BONNER B 1995 Birds and Mammals - Antarctic Seals. in Antarctica Pergamon Press 202 - 222

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