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Scientific Classification
Em - Hydrodamalis gigas model

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum

Chordata

Class

Mammalia

Order

Sirenia

Family

Dugongidae

Genus

Hydrodamalis († is for extinct )

Species

Hydrodamalis gigas

Steller's sea cow is a now extinct marine mammal, related to manatees and dugongs, a was a distant relative of elephants and all other members of Afrotheria. Although widely considered extinct, some cryptozoologists, on the basis of a handful of sightings, theorise that it may still exist, or at least survived for longer than is currently accepted.

Description

It was a bulky animal which was around 8-9 meters or 26 to 30 feet, that had the tail of a dugong and the head of a average Sirenian, it was a very social animal, as noted an male stuck around the shore while his mate had been captured an killed, a behavior similar to cetaceans such Orcas. The animal feed on kelp and moved in small groups. It would have been a generally peaceful creature, just grassing around coastal waters. The species was given a scientific name by Prussian Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann (1743-1815).

Its genus lived all across the pacific during the late Neogene and early Quaternary periods, however, it seems to have had a decline after that and was relegated to a small strip near the bearing strait near Alaska. It was hunted further by native tribes and when Russian fur traders came to Alaska, to hunt otters for their fur, they used the sea cows as meat to survive on. The species was hunted down just a short few decades before its eventual extinction. 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. The species was described by notable German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746) , on a voyage to map out Alaska for the royalty of Russian Empire (1721-1917), the species was classified as extinct by another German naturalist in the 1800s, who said the extinction date was around 1768 based on reports during the 1700s that the species was becoming rarer.

Report validity

Em - Hydrodamalis gigas model

Model made by a museum

Reports that the creature had survived past the proposed extinction have been brought up in the past.

The more likely accounts come from the very late 1700s to early 1800s, however they would not have survived as the population would have not been enough to sustain such animals for an extended period of time.

Reports from the 1900s are even more unlikely as it is considered more likely that they were seeing Elephant seals.

Steller's sea cow rediscovery in Greenland

Steller's sea cow rediscovery in Greenland.mov

The supposed proof of a Greenlandic Sea Cow

Possibly the most recent report comes from the video made during the early 2010s claiming a population survived in Greenland, however this is considered unlikely as the creatures are only confirmed to have lived in the Pacific, nowhere near Greenland which, is in the Atlantic. Further, the pictures don't reveal much, just showing humps, which could be seals, rocks or even whales, but not sea cows.

Regarding supposed Atlantic Steller's sea cows, Loren Coleman has suggested that their range may have extended east - into the Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Bay, and Hudson's Bay (although not much evidence was given for such claims) - in order to explain a number of sea monsters said to resemble upturned boats, which tend to crash into kayaks. According to Dale A. Drinnon, reports of similar "upturned boat" sea creatures continue to emerge from the Chukchi and Laptev Seas, closer to the sea cow's known historical range.

Sources and References (bibliography)

https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Hydrodamalis_gigas/

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/stellers-sea-cow-first-historical-extinction-of-marine-mammal-at-human-hands.html

https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/10303/43792683#population

https://web.archive.org/web/20161020122625/http://www.science.smith.edu/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-165-01-0001.pdf

https://paleobiodb.org/classic/basicTaxonInfo?taxon_no=36885

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steller%27s_sea_cow

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/08/04/killer-whale-carries-child-jones-pkg-vpx.cnn (for the cetacean connection)

https://academic.oup.com/mspecies/article-abstract/doi/10.2307/3503855/2600059?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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