Observations of terrestrial locomotion in Antarctic seals

Observations are reported on the modes of terrestrial locomotion among Antarctic members of the Phocidae. An account is given of the sinuous (or “swimming”) type of progression found most developed in the crabeater seal Lobodon carcinophagus (Hombron and Jacquinot), and of its occurrence in the leopard seal Hydrurga leptonyx (Blainville). This type of movement has not been seen in the Weddell seal Leptonychotes weddelli Lesson, where the undulatory (caterpillar‐like) method is the normal locomotory pattern on land. The fore‐flippers are not used by the adult Weddell seal in terrestrial locomotion, but the pup does make some use of the fore‐flippers during the first 10 to 15 days of postnatal life. The locomotory patterns used by the elephant seal Mirounga leonina Linn, and the probable methods used by the Ross seal Ommatophoca rossi Gray, are noted. The observation that the harp seal Pagophilus groenlandicus (Erxleben) shows the sinuous type of movement under stress is recorded.


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Authors: O'Gorman, Fergus

1 January, 1963
Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London / 141
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