Stellar’s Sea Cow, Stories, Myths, & Their Connection With Now Extinct Animals

November 6, 2016 in Animals & Insects

The Stellar’s Sea Cow was an enormous marine mammal related to the manatee and to the dugong that live until very recently — until ~1772 or so. Following “discovery” in 1742 they were subsequently hunted to extinction over the course of only 3 decades.

For those wondering, the species was named after its “discoverer” Georg Wilhelm Steller. Notably, Stellar himself died (in Siberia) only a few years after making it off the island where he “discovered” the animals, while shipwrecked there with his crew for 9 months.

The Steller’s Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was an enormous animal, considerably bigger than even the largest West Indian Manatees — growing to reach lengths of 26 to 33 feet (8 to 11 meters), reportedly. Modern estimates suggest that adults could reach weights of between 8 and 10 tons. Some individuals may well have been larger though. It’s been classified within Sirenia.

Sea cow Stellar's
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Extinction, Mass Extinctions, Extinct Species, And The Ongoing 6th Great Mass Extinction

March 7, 2013 in Animals & Insects, Fossils, Humans, Plants

Extinction is the process by which a species, genus, or family, becomes extinct — no longer existing and living in the world. It is the abolition and annihilation of something that previously existed in the world. In the case of biology, it refers specifically to the end of an evolutionary line, or a branch on the tree of life.

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The actual moment of extinction is considered to be when the last individual representative of a species or group is no longer living. But functional extinction can occur considerably earlier than that — as the result of loss of genetic diversity, range, and/or the ability for a population to breed and recover.

Most types of life, especially animals, are closely tied to their ecological niches and environments. With a loss of their living environment, and its accompanying species, extinction is almost inevitable for many types of life. Species diversification and emergence typically doesn’t occur in these circumstances, it usually happens within healthy ecosystems. The long-period of time that follows large extinction events when no new species emerge is referred to as a dead zone .

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