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Major fossil find of extinct sea cow unearthed in Russia's Far East

Society 20.11.2017 | 09:40
Photo: Komandorsky Nature Reserve
Photo: Komandorsky Nature Reserve

MOSCOW, 20 November (BelTA - TASS) - A whole skeleton of a Steller's sea cow, an extinct sirenian, which died out in the 18th century, was found at the Komandorsky Nature Reserve in Kamchatka, Russia's Far East, the press services of the Natural Resources Ministry said on Friday.

"The discovery of the full skeleton of a Steller's sea cow is a significant event not only for the Komandorsky Nature Reserve but for the field of science in general. Museums across the globe have many skeletons of Steller's sea cows but most of them were found in the 19th century," the press service said. "The last discovery of a three-meter skeleton was made on the Bering Island [to the east of the Kamchatka peninsula] in 1987."

This newly-discovered skeleton is 5.2 meters long. It will be later showcased at the visit center of the Komandorsky Nature Reserve.

Steller's sea cow was discovered by Europeans in the middle of the 18th century. At that time, it was found only around the Commander Islands in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. Adult sea cows would reach weights of more than five metric tonnes and lengths of up to 10 meters.

The sea cow was named in honor of German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who discovered and described the species in 1741. After just 27 years of its discovery, the endemic mammal was hunted into extinction.

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