[3] Kelp was a food source for the sea cow. The American Naturalist 21(12):1047-1054. 3 Following 14.0K Followers. The Steller's Sea Cow became extinct because of humans hunting these sea cows. This is equivalent to approximately 24 cows, or two adult male African elephants. Comparing a Steller's sea cow skull (right) with that of a modern dugong (left) gives a good idea of just how big they were © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London, 'They were subject to very little detailed scientific investigation, so we can only really guess as to their biology and behaviour. 'The shallow waters around the Commander and Aleutian islands were primarily the feeding areas for the Steller's sea cow,' says Richard. School University of Southern California; Course Title BISC 315; Type. They were also vulnerable for their subcutaneous fat that was used as butter. ... Stellers Sea Cow; Unfortunately, one of the sadder facts about Steller’s Sea Cow is that it was hunted to extinction. ', Discover where the real and wizarding worlds intertwine, and how the wonders of the natural world have inspired myths, legends and magical creatures for generations.  . The cow in question was known as Steller’s sea cow. Soon after their discovery, fur hunters began to kill the defenseless Steller’s Sea Cow for its tasty meat, and within 27 years, the Steller’s Sea Cow had been systematically slaughtered to extinction. Sea Cows are extinct everywhere. Get email updates about our news, science, exhibitions, events, products, services and fundraising activities. The Cuesta sea cow is thought to have become extinct due to the onset of the Quaternary … For the past 200 years, tales of Sea cow sightings have grown in number. When word of these docile, easily-hunted animals spread among navigators, Russian hunters made expeditions to the region on a yearly basis on their way to the Aleutian Islands. But in the 1700s, a sea cow existed whose bulk dwarfed even these gargantuan ocean-dwellers: the Steller's sea cow. People who lived on the Bering Island claimed to have eaten sea cow as late as early 1780. Less than 27 years, the Steller’s Sea Cow had been systematically killed off to the brink of extinction. [4] Feeding: The jaws had no teeth; instead there were bristles that pulled out seaweed and held food. We can use the dugong as a living example of a closely related species, to make assumptions as to how these animals were fitting in or contributing to their ecosystems, but there were limited methodological observations of the sea cows and so we have little solid data. The fat could be used for cooking and as an odorless lamp oil. Your comment has not yet been posted. Almost everything we know about the animals' behaviour and ecology stems from his brief observations of them, more frequently than not as they were being slaughtered and dragged up the beaches to be butchered. A proposed plan to mechanically dredge kelp in Scotland would destroy a unique habitat. Using recent and historical information on sea otters and kelp forests, we show that the extinction of Steller's sea cow from the Commander Islands in the mid-1700s would have been a … Steller's sea cows were extraordinary creatures. The story follows the twists and turns in the ‘discovery’ of Steller’s sea cow, its subsequent extinction and our attempts to decipher its secrets. Various epidemics had been the cause of extinction of a large population of humans and animals on earth. It was on one of these Russian expeditions, captained by Vitus Bering - who would eventually give this stretch of water his name - that German zoologist Georg Wilhelm Steller first came across the marine mammals. It lived in small family groups and fed only on kelp. Other factors such the hunting of otters caused environmental shifts due to the fact that the otters eating urchins that controlled algae, that caused havoc for the kelp that the Stellers sea cow was eating might have also been a cause for extinction. It was an enormous but docile relative of modern day manatees and dugongs and is considered one of the largest mammals in modern history outside of the great whales (Marsh, et al, 2012). Finally, the professor refutes the theory that the arriving of fur trader was the cause of sea cow extinction, he says, the sea cow population was already declined a hundred years before the fur trader arriving ,if we know the cause of it's decline at that time, then it must be the real cause of their extinction. He would become the first and only scientist recorded to have seen the animals alive, having formally 'discovered' the sea cows in 1741 when the ship on which he was travelling became marooned on what is now Bering Island. One of the more troubling details of the sea cow’s decline and Turvey and Risley’s study is the amount of wastage factored into their estimates. Less than 27 years, the Steller’s Sea Cow had been systematically killed off to the brink of extinction. The Steller Sea Cow weighed around 8,800 lbs and was roughly 25 feet long !Their skin was a gray color most likely to camouflage in the lower regions of the water. Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them. Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) is an extinct sirenian described by Georg Wilhelm Steller in 1741. Recommended Manatees guestf68c64. 'It's a long, cold journey and if you suddenly find that you are able to get your hands on fresh meat, you're going to take that opportunity. J.F. This instance of extirpation preceding extinction is an excellent example of why Arctic Crashes philosophy is effective in studying population fluctuations. 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