National Geographic – The life history of the leopard seal is not the same as that of a cat.
In fact, they’re quite different animals.
But that’s what the scientists who have studied them for more than 50 years have learned.
In their new book Leopard Seal Size and Life History, published this month by National Geographic, they report that leopard seals live in different ecological niches than do cats, and they have much in common with the great white shark.
They are also far more similar to their larger cousins than to the great brown seal, the largest of the marine mammals.
The difference is that, in terms of their diet, leopard sharks and great white sharks eat mostly fish and crustaceans, while the seals eat mostly marine mammals and birds.
In addition to its long and storied history of research, National Geographic also highlights the important role that the seal plays in our own ecosystems.
“As the seal population in the Arctic continues to decline due to climate change and overfishing, and the global economy continues to shrink, our understanding of its evolutionary history and potential roles in our ecosystem is vital to understanding the impacts of climate change on the ocean and on human health,” the magazine says.
Read more about seals at Smithsonian.com/leopard and the seal at Smithsonian’s Animal Life Museum at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Read about leopard and great whites at Smithsonian, Smithsonian.org and National Geographic.