The recent discovery of a 250 years old skeleton has astonished the research team who found the same at a remote island in Russia. The fossils of this sea cow were studied, and it was estimated that this very species got extinct from the face of Earth somewhere around 250 years ago. The research team confirmed that the skeleton did not bear any head, but the whole fossil remains were large enough to be considered as a complete one. This particular gargantuan sea cow, also known as the Steller’s sea cow skeleton was found exactly in the Commander Islands located in Russia’s Komandorsky Nature Reserve.
At first look, it seemed to the scientists that it was a white colored man-made fence that has been buried in the sand. The scientists decided to proceed with the task of digging through the Earth and just after reaching a three feet depth; the scientists discovered a giant skeleton with a head missing from the whole set. This enormous skeleton weighed around 10 ton. In the words of Lorelei Crerar, a professor at George Mason University, “This is the only sea cow that we ever found in such an intact condition. All we have is just this one record of this species, and that’s it.” Earlier a paper on the same species was published in the year 2014.
The research team covering this study was being led by Marina Shitova of Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve. The team revealed that the giant sea cow had a skeleton that was somewhere around 17 feet long. An excavation of just 2.3 feet was required to recover the fossil remains of the animal. The fossil was made up of 45 vertebrae, 27 ribs and also a left scapula. The only thing missing was the skull. The cow has been named such as in the year 1741, a German explorer George Steller was the first person to confirm the existence of this cow-like creatures. Stellar had to leave behind the sea cow carcass that he found during his Great Northern Expeditions. Crerar is still in doubt that their recently discovered sea cow skeleton could be the same as the one discovered by Stellar. Now, the team hopes that the sea cow might be present close to the first place where the skeleton was unearthed.
Hydrodamalis gigas or sea cows were first discovered by Stellar as they were on the verge of extinction. At the time of its first discovery, it has been speculated that around 2000 sea cows existed but slowly turned towards extinction. They became the prime targets of harpoon hunters, and by the year 1768, they were all gone. According to the researchers, the sea cows looked like a mix of dugongs and manatees and also resembled in behavior but had a much larger structure than them.
Almost 11,700 years ago, the sea cows resided in the Pleistocene megafauna and swam in the waters found near Russia. The sea cows exhibited a monogamous characteristic and also behaved like a mammal. Stellar and his team killed more 10 of these animals to cope with the hunger during their expeditions.
The fossil remains found recently are going to be showcased in the Nature Reserve’s Visitor Center to provide people access to the access to the ancient flora and fauna of the remote Commander Island. Scientists haven’t been able to estimate the age of the sea cow found by them. The team expects to derive more information in future from the study of the fossils found.