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Re: Marsupial forelimbs... or rather hindlimbs

What about pinnipeds? They're not far off.

Very good question. Maybe the ecology of the early whales and/or the persistence of the dyrosaurid crocodiles and/or the lower productivity of hot seas are to blame... though even then, the pinnipeds didn't appear immediately at the beginning of the Oligocene.

I'm confused though, as to why bats didn't face the same challenge
when invading the bird niche. (Is it because they're nocturnal?)

Must be.