PerspectiveMARINE MAMMALS

Where to find fantastic beasts at sea

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Science  25 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6425, pp. 338-339
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9156

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Summary

The biggest predators in the oceans captivate us for good reasons: Sharks, billfishes, whales, and penguins have big appetites, range over large distances, and have achieved similar body forms from vastly different starting points on the tree of life. Evolutionary convergences among large marine predators are also more than skin deep; those with ancestries on land, such as marine mammals and seabirds, have independently evolved an array of molecular and tissue specializations for maximizing oxygen and warmth (1). Beyond these fantastic traits, marine predators also possess large body sizes and trophic linkages that make them ecologically important consumers in marine food webs. On page 366 of this issue, Grady et al. (2) reveal why these top marine predator species—all the high trophic level consumers—are not found together in different regions of the world, despite their shared traits.

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