Russian scientists found an immense extinct sea mammal buried in grounds of the country’s eastern coastline. The nature ministry announced that the remains are still intact and that this is an excellent finding due to the history of this species.

The impressive rib cage of the sea cow stuck out of the ground like a fence. The organs, which were contained by the cage, were enormous as well. The heart, for example, weighted around 16 kilograms. Credit: Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology
The impressive rib cage of the sea cow stuck out of the ground like a fence. The organs, which were contained by the cage, were enormous as well. The heart, for example, weighted around 16 kilograms. Credit: Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology

At the far-flung Commander Islands in the Bering Sea, the nature reserve officials reported that they had found the remains of a 6-meter Steller’s sea cow completely covered under a bunch of sand. The body of the beast is practically untouched, and its 45 vertebrae, 27 ribs, a left scapula and other bones look like they are from yesterday. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology said in a statement that the investigators spent around four hours digging a few meters and found the massive sea mammal. The local officials first thought the ribs were a “fence” coming out from the sand placed to guide people to the beach.

The Steller’s sea cow was first described in 1741 and was one of the largest animals of its time. However, only 27 years later, the last of its kind was slaughtered for food due to its size of 8 meters and 10 tons weight.
The Steller’s sea cow was first described in 1741 and was one of the largest animals of its time. However, only 27 years later, the last of its kind was slaughtered for food due to its size of 8 meters and 10 tons weight.

This species is known for being alive since the Pleistocene — an age that began around 2.6 million years ago and ended 11,700 years ago — until the 18th century. It was usually a target for harpoon hunters navigating the waters between Russia and Alaska, but some Arctic reports say that the animal did not use to fear humans before it disappeared. “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,” wrote researchers from George Mason University on the study. The sea creature used to measure around 10 meters and weight up to ten tons. It also was known for its impressive ability of swimming and getting its food. It belonged to a group of mammals known as Sirenia — a name which came after the Greek mythology creatures half humans and half fish. Its corporeal mass made the animal able to live in cold environments, but it also made it pretty slow to predators.

The researchers that had dug out the remains were surprised by the quality of the bones. Most of it looked like the animal had died only recently. Credit: Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology
The researchers that had dug out the remains were surprised by the quality of the bones. Most of it looked like the animal had died only recently. Credit: Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology

A German scientist and explorer named Georg W. Steller while he was traveling through the North Pacific in 1741 with Vitus Bering first described the animal. Now, its only remaining relatives are the dugong and the manatee. Scientists said that the number of this species’ individuals was already decreasing when Steller found the first. They estimate that there were at least 2,000 of these animals still swimming through the Arctic sea. Maria Shitova was the researcher who spotted the extinct animal at the bay. The nature reserve inspector said that the findings would be displayed on the islands after they are completely analyzed. Scientists have not been able to find how old this creature is, but they assume is not very ancient after seeing how well conserved the bones are. The last time that scientists found remains from a Steller’s sea cow was in 1987, on the same island, also by Russian investigators.

Source: David Montes, Pulse Headlines