An ancient Steller’s sea cow’s remains have appeared on a remote Russian island. The scientists found the headless remains of the sea monster that was hunted down to extinction in the 18th century. The sea cow measured 20-feet, and it died out as a target of harpoon hunters, as it didn’t fear humans. Here’s what we know about the ancient sea cow, discovered in Russia.
The scientists discovered the creature after they found the ribs sticking out of the seashore. They spent about eight hours digging to discover what the buried creature was, which showed that it was a rare, extinct sea cow, which was endemic to the waters of the islands between Alaska and Russia. Digging revealed 45 vertebrae, 27 ribs, a left scapula and other bones.
Arctic explorers recorded the sightings of the ancient sea cows before they died out. The animals could grow up to 30 feet and could weigh up to ten tons. Also, they were good at swimming and ate grass on the bottom of the sea using horny pads to chew.
Maria Shitova, nature reserve inspector, discovered the ribs of the skeleton, which will be displayed on those islands. The sea cow belonged to a group of mammals called Sirenia, which were named after the mermaids in Greek mythology.
“According to the fossil record, animals in the genus Hydrodamalis inhabited coastal waterways from Japan through the Aleutian Island chain to Baja California during the Late Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene,” researchers from George Mason University wrote in Biology Letters.
“According to historical records, by the eighteenth century, the species had declined to remnant populations around only Bering and Copper Islands, Russia,” researchers added.
George Steller was a German explorer who was the first to document the existence of Steller sea cows, which were later named after him. He recorded their existence when he was on a voyage in 1741. His team survived by hunting the ancient sea cows which moved in herds and were slow-moving, meaning they were easy prey. The reports they made suggest that one sea cow could feed 33 men for a month.
According to BBC, Stellar wrote that the 4-inch blubber had a taste like almond oil, which also spread the word about its meat. Reports suggest that the last ancient sea cow was killed in 1768, 27 years after its discovery. According to the scientists, those hunting expeditions played a big part in those animals going extinct. It is believed that hunters killed far more of those sea cows than they could eat, as they thought that there was “an infinite” supply.