While on a beach in Russia, Maria Shitova saw what she initially thought was a fence with some white poles jutting out of the sand. The surprise was huge when her research team unearthed an almost full skeleton of an enormous extinct sea cow. The team made the amazing discovery on the Commander Islands which are part of Russia’s Komandorosky Nature Reserve. The earthly remains of the creature measured 17 feet and belonged to a 10-ton animal.
Unfortunately, the skeleton doesn’t have a head and a few important bones but still, it’s a phenomenal discovery. According to officials, the skeleton is going to be put on display at the visitor center, for everyone to see. According to Lorelai Crerar, the publisher of a paper on sea cows, this is the only specimen the science world has that is so complete. Before this discovery, there was only one record of this enormous animal.
An almost complete sea cow skeleton found in Russia
— Motherboard (@motherboard) November 20, 2017
That discovery happened in 1987, on Bering Island, and it was a 10-feet specimen. Unfortunately, it has since been dismembered. Now, it seems like the Finnish Museum of Natural History houses one of the most complete sea cow skeletons in the world.
Crerar is positive that the head of the specimen is also somewhere in the same area and she’s hoping that it will be found. It’s interesting that German explorer Georg Steller discovered these creatures back in 1941. Unfortunately, when he came back from his Great Northern Expedition, he had to leave a carcass behind. According to Crerar, it’s highly possible that this recently-found skeleton might be that very same carcass.
Steller’s sea cows are closely related to modern-day manatees and dugongs. They used to live in the waters between Russia and Alaska about 11,700 years ago. They were even breathing air and were never going fully underwater. Moreover, they might have even walked on dry land.
Image source: flickr