News of the WeekMARINE MAMMALS

By a Whisker, Harbor Seals Catch Their Prey

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Science  06 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5527, pp. 29-31
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5527.29b

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When mammals colonized the ocean some 50 million years ago, some species of dolphins and whales evolved echolocation, which allows them to "see" with their ears. How other marine mammals manage to hunt without echolocation has long been a mystery, though, as the sharp vision their ancestors had evolved on land was of little use in the ocean's murky darkness. On page 102, researchers report that part of the answer has been hiding in plain view: They use their whiskers.