New Zealand fur seal
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Subfamily: Arctocephalinae
Genus: Arctocephalus
É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire & F. Cuvier in F. Cuvier, 1826
Type species
"Phoca ursina"[1]
Schreber, 1775

Arctocephalus gazella
Arctocephalus townsendi
Arctocephalus philippii
Arctocephalus galapagoensis
Arctocephalus pusillus
Arctocephalus forsteri
Arctocephalus tropicalis
Arctocephalus australis

  • Arctophoca
  • Cynophoca

The genus Arctocephalus consists of the southern fur seals. Arctocephalus translates to "bear head."


The number of species within the genus has been questioned, primarily based on limited molecular data. The issue is complicated because some of the species are able to produce fertile hybrids. A recent review recommended the retention of seven species, deprecating the New Zealand fur seals to a subspecies of the South American fur seal, while also questioning the status of the Guadalupe fur seal.[2] Other recent studies have indicated the genus may be paraphyletic, and some taxonomic reshuffling was previously done to account for this; however, more recent studies support it being monophyletic, with the alleged paraphyly being a consequence of incomplete lineage sorting.[3][4]

Extant Species

Image Name Distribution
Antarctic fur seal, A. gazella
Guadalupe fur seal, A. townsendi
Juan Fernández fur seal, A. philippii
Galápagos fur seal, A. galapagoensis
Brown fur seal (or Cape fur seal), A. pusillus
New Zealand fur seal, A. forsteri
Subantarctic fur seal, A. tropicalis
South American fur seal, A. australis


  1. ^ Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Berta, A.; Churchill, M. (2012). "Pinniped Taxonomy: evidence for species and subspecies". Mammal Review. 42 (3): 207–234. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.2011.00193.x.
  3. ^ Yonezawa, T.; et al. (2009). "The monophyletic origin of sea lions and fur seals (Carnivora; Otariidae) in the Southern Hemisphere". Gene. 441 (1–2): 89–99. doi:10.1016/j.gene.2009.01.022. PMID 19254754.
  4. ^ Lopes, Fernando; Oliveira, Larissa R; Kessler, Amanda; Beux, Yago; Crespo, Enrique; Cárdenas-Alayza, Susana; Majluf, Patricia; Sepúlveda, Maritza; Brownell, Robert L; Franco-Trecu, Valentina; Páez-Rosas, Diego (2020-12-26). "Phylogenomic Discordance in the Eared Seals is best explained by Incomplete Lineage Sorting following Explosive Radiation in the Southern Hemisphere". Systematic Biology. 70 (4): 786–802. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syaa099. hdl:10923/20564. ISSN 1063-5157. PMID 33367817.