Note: Information is dated. Do not rely on it.Seal. The name given to the species of the family Phocidae. The true seals are earless; and this, in addition to the fact that the construction of their limbs does not permit of their using those organs on land, at once distinguishes them from the allied family of eared seals, or sea lions. The fore limbs are short, and are so attached as to leave little free but the hand; in the hind limbs the thigh bones are very short, the leg bones relatively long and directed backward in a line with the spine, and closely attached by membrane to the inconspicuous tail as far as the heel, a construction which prevents the leg being thrown forward. The head is very round, and the eyes are large and expressive. In swimming they seldom use their fore feet, while the eared seals use them as powerful sweeps. In their distribution the species are pretty equally divided between the northern and the southern hemispheres, inhabiting temperate and cold regions. The Alaskan fur seal belongs to the allied family of eared seals and is of great commercial importance. Seals are hunted on account of the oil they yield, for the sake of which great numbers are slaughtered. To the inhabitants of the polar regions they afford food, clothing, and fire.