Steller's Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was a relative of the dugong (Dugong dugon), and the manatees (Trichechus spp) and was the largest of the sirenians, a group of herbivorous marine mammals resembling large seals, but more closely related to elephants. It was first described in 1741 by Georg Wilhelm Steller, physician and chief naturalist on an explorer Vitus Bering's second Kamchatka expedition. By 1768, only 27 years after its discovery by Europeans, the slow-moving and easily-captured Steller's sea cow had been hunted to extinction. Steller provides us with the only detailed first hand information. Other observers made notes in their journals, but no other scientist saw a living Sea Cow. Steller's descriptions along with skeletal remains, comparisons with Dugongs and notes from sailors' journals, have allowed later researchers to reconstruct (as far as possible) its anatomy and lifestyle.

Steller, along with other surviving members of the crew of Bering's ship "St Peter" had been shipwrecked off the coast of Kamchatka in early November 1741. The survivors spent months shipwrecked on what would later be named Bering Island. During this time, Steller gathered considerable information on the habits of the Steller's Sea Cow as well as an extensive set of measurements of its anatomy. Bering's crew only killed their first Sea Cow 6 weeks before their escape from the island in August 1742. The meat, described as akin to veal or beef, was crucial in restoring their strength during the final stages of building a new boat from the wreckage of the "St Peter". Steller's description was published in Latin in 1751 "De Bestiis Marinis" ("The Beasts of the Sea"), which is reproduced in English at the foot of this article.

When the survivors returned to Kamchatka in 1742, word of the excellent Sea Cow meat spread quickly through the sailing community. Each year saw new hunting expeditions return to Bering Island to spend 8 or 9 months hunting fur-animals while surviving on Sea Cow meat. Many of those expeditions over-wintered on Bering Island in order to collect and preserve Sea Cow for the remainder of their 3-4 year journey to the Aleutian Islands and North America.

Yakolev, a first-hand observer of Steller's Sea Cow, claims that an order was given to the headquarters of the outpost on the Komandorskiye Islands on November 27, 1755, prohibiting any further hunting of the Sea Cows. However, he notes that by this time the animals were extremely rare. The species had probably reached the point of no return. In 1768, the explorer Martin Sauer described the killing of the last known Sea Cow in his journal. Residents of Bering Island claimed that Sea Cows were still being killed and eaten in the area in the late 1770s.

According to a Polish naturalist, Sea Cows survived near Bering Island as late as 1830 and there were native reports of the animal near Bering Island and in the Aleutian Islands into the 1860s. In 1910, a Steller’s Sea Cow allegedly washed up on the shores of Cape Chaplin (northern end of the Gulf of Anadyr, Siberia), then in the mid 20th Century a harpooner reported regularly seeing 32 foot long, finless animals not far from Bering Island in July, several years in succession. The crew of a Russian whaler also claimed to have observed a group of Sea Cows in 1962 and a Russian fisherman allegedly approached and touched a live Sea Cow at Anapkinskaya Bay in summer 1976 (more likely to have been a stray Northern Elephant Seal). A supposed a Sea Cow skeleton was reported on a Soviet island in 1983. It must be borne in mind, that during the same era, relict populations of small mammoths were also reported as surviving on Soviet islands. There were also periodic claims of sightings off of the northwest coats of North America. None of these sighting have been confirmed and were probably sightings of elephant seals or small whales.


Sirenians appeared during the Eocene, when they probably lived in the Tethys Ocean. They diverged in the mid-Eocene into the ancestors of Manatees and Dugongs. The ancestors of Steller's Sea Cow probably split from the Dugong lineage in the Miocene. Fossils indicate that Steller's Sea Cow had once been widespread along the North Pacific coast, reaching south to Japan and California. The ancestor to Steller's Sea Cow was possibly an extinct Dugongidae sea cow, Dusisiren jordani, common in the shallow coastal waters of late Miocene California 10-12 million years ago. It probably evolved to live in warmer water; the cold waters of the Bering Sea being the limit of its range. During its evolution, its flippers and finger bones had become "arms" with no wrists and its teeth had been lost, leaving ridged horny plates adapted to mashing kelp and sea grassed. It may also lost its diving capability in order to float on the tide by the great kelp beds close to the islands and "walk" in the shallow coastal beds of sea grass.

Humans were their only known predators, although sharks and killer whales probably also preyed upon juveniles or sickly individuals. predators. Steller described it as completely tame, something that would have been due to its lack of contact with humans.


Having evolved in warmer waters, Steller's Sea Cow was probably once abundant throughout the North Pacific. It preferred shallow waters with rich vegetation and, prior to being documented by Steller, had been hunted by aboriginal (pre-colonial) peoples alond the coastline. By the time Europeans discovered it, it was reduced to a single isolated population and its range was limited to part of the Bering Sea surrounding the uninhabited and treeless Komandorski Islands (Commander Islands) east of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. It inhabited shallow cold marine waters rich in algae and sea grass near the shores around Bering Island and Medney Island (Copper Island). Having become extinct over much of its original range due to aboriginal hunting, it survived at the Komandorski Islands as they had never been inhabited by humans. Its rapid decline may have also have been exacerbated by habitat change; aboriginal hunting of Sea Otters from coastal and inland areas may have allowed an increase in the sea urchin population and a resulting decrease in the kelp and sea grasses needed to sustain a Sea Cow population.

Its population would have been small and limited in range when Steller first described them. Although Steller described them as numerous and found in herds, in 1887 the zoologist Leonhard Hess Stejneger later estimated that there would have been fewer than 1,500 individuals remaining. it seems they were just about holding on at the extreme of their range and were in immediate danger of extinction once Europeans began hunting them. Steller's Sea Cow and its ancestors once thrived around the Pacific rim from Baja to Japan until the arrival of humans in the Pleistocene.

Physical Description

We must rely mainly on Steller for a detailed hysical description. He described the head and neck as being short and weakly delimited from the rest of the body. The disproportionately small head had relatively small eyes, lacked ear flaps (pinnae) and had paired nostrils close to the tip of the snout. They had large whisker-like bristles surrounding the mouth and these no doubt had a sensory function, allowing them to feel their environment. Adults lacked teeth, but retained keratinous rostral pads (flat white bones) that were used for mashing plant matter. OThe upper pad was fixed to the palate, and lower pad to the inside of the lower jaw. The neck appears to have been more flexible than in Manatees or Dugongs and may have helped them in feeding over a wider area without needing to move their cumbersome (in shallow water at least) bodies. The body tapered towards the head and tail end, but the belly and sides were rounded to the point of appearing swollen, housing an enlarged gut that had to digest barely masticated vegetation. In a healthy, well-nourished Sea Cow, the back was slightly convex. There was a whale-like fluke at the end of the tail. The Sea Cow's skin was unusual in having a black, thickened, bark-like epidermis that may have protected it from sharp rocks in the shallows where it fed.

Although many reconstructions show the Sea Cow as having flipper-like forelimbs similar to Dugongs and Manatees, Steller described them as being relatively short with a distinct hook-like shape. Other first-hand observers also described, or sketched, this adaptation. The skin on the forelimbs was very thick on the limbs, and Steller described the animals as using their limbs to pull themselves along while feeding in shallow water. Sea Cows also had a narrower, deeper body than surviving sirenians, bringing their limbs closer to their midline and allowing them to "walk" along in shallow water while feeding.

Steller and other first-hand observers described the Sea Cow as being unable to dive or even completely submerge its body. Surviving Sirenians have specialised skeletons, diaphragm and lungs that allow them to submerge completely and to dive. It's possible that the much greater size of Steller's Sea Cow made it more buoyant or that it evolved to be able to enter shallower waters for freshwater and to escape marine predators (which proved to be its downfall when humans began hunting it). It's also possible that Sea Cows did not dive in response to being attacked by hunters. They drifted just below the surface of the water with their convex backs protruding above the waterline so that they resembled overturned boats. Both Steller and Waxell noted the large midsection and disproportionately small head.

Steller's description contains contradictory estimates of a Sea Cow's size and weight. The largest animals were 4-5 fathoms long (1 fathom = 6 feet), 3.5 fathoms thick around, and weighed 200 Russian puds or 80 short hundredweight. The true value (estimated from skeletal remains and lost weight alarmingly when food was scarce.

Compared with other Sirenians (all weights and lengths approximate):

Steller's Sea Cow: 8 - 9 metres (26 - 30 ft) long, weighing 5500 - 11,000 kg (12000 to 24,600 lb), averaging 8000 kg (17,600 lb) Dugong: 3 - 4 metres (9.8 - 13.3 ft) long, weighing 420 k - 1016 kg (926 - 2240 lb), though most are at the lower end of this range. Manatees: 2.8 to 3.6 metres (9.2 to 12 ft) long, weighing 400 - 1775 kg (880 - 3910 lb), though most are at the lower end of this range.

Of the animals themselves, only skeletal remains have survived and some of these have been incorrectly reassembled by museums (who also gave the animals flippers, rather than their unique forelimbs). Further information about its physical appearance comes from first-hand observers and from sketches, from persons of varying abilities and from second-hand reports included in Steller's account.

According to Steller, it resembled a large seal, but had two stout forelimbs and a whale-like fluke (a large, flat, twin-lobed tail like that of a dugong, rather than the paddle-shaped tail of the manatee). According to Steller, "The animal never comes out on shore, but always lives in the water. Its skin is black and thick, like the bark of an old oak…, its head in proportion to the body is small…, it has no teeth, but only two flat white bones—one above, the other below". In the rough sea it was protected from rocks and ice floes by its 3 cm (1-inch) thick bark-like black skin and a 20 cm (4-9 inches) thick subcutaneous fat layer. The external ear openings were only about the size of a pea, but the internal ear bones were very large, suggesting they had excellent hearing, although when they were feeding, would completely ignore even a boat. Steller's sea cow appears to have been almost mute, making only deep breathing sounds when coming up for air and loud moaning sounds when wounded.

According to Steller, parasitic crustaceans sometimes severely infested the submerged areas of Sea Cows, much as they infest the larger whales. In his dissections, Steller also noted white, parasitic worms in the gut. It is likely these were ascarid nematodes. These external and internal parasites haven't been definitively identified (none were preserved). When a host animal becomes extinct, specialised parasites may be extinguished with it.


Herds congregated in shallow waters close to the shore, sometimes within wading distance. Steller notes that they were often found near the mouths of stream or rivers, which suggests they could not tolerate drinking saltwater. They spent most of their time feeding or resting, and could submerge their heads for 4-5 minutes at a time. Several first-hand observers mention the apparent fearlessness of the animals and, according to Steller, boats could be easily rowed into a herd and humans could wade among individuals near shore with little or no reaction.

First-hand accounts of Sea Cow eating habits are rather vague. Steller described them as primarily eating brown and red algae, while sea grass was only a small part of the diet. Later comparision with Dugongs suggest that algae was eaten when the preferred sea grasses were in short supply. Steller also mentioned Sea Cows feeding on parts of algae and sea grass growing near the surface or on rocks in the shallows. Seasonal food availability was evidently a problem for Sea Cows in the Bering Sea population, as Steller describes individuals losing so much weight during the winter months to cause their ribs and vertebrae to be visible under the skin. This suggests that human hunting had pushed the animals into a sub-optimal environment where they managed to survive rather than thrive.

Sea Cows used keratinous pads to crop and mash food rather than chew it. Most likely they swallowed pieces of kelp intact. Steller's description of the great enlargement of the gut, especially the caecum, would have reflected a need for chemical digestion or fermentation of poorly masticated food. Their highly mobile lips would have been used in gathering and cropping food and their claw-like forelimbs might have been used to scrape plants from rocks. Wherever sea cows had been feeding, heaps of stalks and roots of kelp were washed ashore.

Final Decline

Its slow-moving, surface-dwelling lifestyle made it an easy target for sailors and explorers. Bering Island became a stopover for sailors, sealers and fur traders following Bering's route to Alaska. Steller's Sea Cow was hunted both for food and for its skin, which was used to make boats. At 8 - 9 metres long (26 - 30 ft) long, a Sea Cow weighing over 4000 kg could feed a 30-man crew for a month. Not only was the meat tasty and nutritious, it could be preserved for long periods at sea. The subcutaneous fat (blubber) could be used like butter or lard, and was also used in oil lamps because it did not give off any smoke or odour and it could be kept for a long time in warm weather without spoiling.

The Steller's Sea Cow was gregarious, and herds appear to have included juveniles, males and females. Juveniles were kept toward the middle of the herd, and Steller described herd members attempting to come to the aid of captured individuals. Steller's Sea Cows appears to have been monogamous, and Steller's account of the animal's behaviour suggests the pair bond was quite strong. Individuals spent the majority of their time feeding or resting, and Steller notes that the head could be kept submerged for 4-5 minutes at a time. Several first-hand observers commented on the apparent fearlessness of this large sea cow. According to Steller, boats could be easily rowed into a herd and humans could wade among individuals near shore with little or no reaction.

Sea Cows were gregarious, and formed herds including juveniles and adults of both sexes. Juveniles were kept toward the middle of the herd, and Steller describes herd members attempting to come to the aid of captured individuals, something that made them even easier to hunt. Although there is only sketching information about their reproductive behaviour, from Steller's descriptions it appears they were monogamous and formed strong pair bonds. They apparently mated mainly in early spring. A female could give birth to her single offspring at any time of year, but most births occurred in early autumn. Steller inferred that the pregnancy lasted over one year. Such a low reproduction rate made the level of hunting unsustainable throughout its range (the population discovered by Europeans being a relict population surviving in a marginal environment).

Steller wrote: "But if one animal is caught with the hook and begins to plunge about rather violently those near him in the herd are thrown into commotion as well and endeavour to assist him. To this end some of them try to upset the boat with their backs, others bear down upon the rope and try to break it, or endeavor to extract the hook from the back of their wounded companion with a blow from their tails, and several times they proved successful. It is a very curious evidence of their nature and of their conjugal affection that when a female was caught the male, after trying with all his strength, but in vain, to free his captured mate, would follow her quite to the shore, even though we struck him many blows, and that when she was dead he would sometimes come up to her as unexpectedly and as swiftly as an arrow. When we came the next day, early in the morning, to cut up the flesh and take it home, we found the male still waiting near his mate; and I saw this again on the third day when I came alone for the purpose of examining the entrails."

There are first-hand descriptions of hunting Sea Cows which shows just how wasteful the methods were. Hunters simply waded out to an individual, speared one of the animals and then allowed it swim off, hoping that it would later die from its injuries and drift to shore where the carcase could be retrieved. Only one out of five Steller's Sea Cows hit by harpoon or rifle fire was retrieved; the majority escaped immediate slaughter only to die at sea from their injuries.

The meat was most often referred to as being similar to veal or to beef in terms of taste and texture. It was easily prepared and, crucially, remained fresh for much longer than any other meat source available at the time. The fat was described as tasting like sweet almond-oil. Based on the information from Steller's observations, the crews of other ships arriving on the island slaughtered the sea cows for their meat and fat. The blubber was useful for cooking and was also a source of lamp oil. The milk of slaughtered cows could be consumed directly or made into butter. The thick, tough hides were used for shoes, belts and to make skin-covered boats.

References and Further Reading


A THIRD genus of these herbivorous cetaceans [sic] is the RYTINA, which is supposed to be now extinct, the last known specimen having been killed in 1768, only twentv-seven years after the creatures were discovered.

The Rytina possessed no true teeth, and masticated its food by means of two bony plates, one of which was attached to the front of the palate, and the other to the lower jaw. It was a large animal, measuring about twenty-five feet in length, and nearly twenty feet in circumference. The Rytina was discovered in the year 1741 on an island in Behring’s Straits; and as the animals were large, heavy, and unarmed, they were most valuable in affording food to the unfortunate sailors who were shipwrecked upon that island, and were forced to abide there for the space of ten months. When the islands were visited by ships in search of sea-otters, which abounded in that locality, the crews found the Rytinas to be so valuable and so easy a prey that the entire race was extirpated in a few years.

The only account of the Rytina is that which was furnished by Steller, one of the shipwrecked party, who, undaunted by the terrible privations which he was forced to undergo, wrote an admirable description of the animal, which was afterwards published in St. Petersburg.

NORTHERN SEA COW (Genus Rhytina) described in LYDEKKER’s ROYAL NATURAL HISTORY (1894).

On his return in 1741 from a voyage of discovery to Alaska, the navigator Behring had the misfortune to be shipwrecked on the island which now bear his name; that island, together with the adjacent Copper Island, constituting the Commander group, which lie in Behring Sea, at a distance of about one hundred miles from the coast of Kamschatka. At the time of their involuntary sojourn, Behring and his companions found the shores of these islands inhabited by a hitherto unknown animal, evi­dently allied to the manati, but of much greater dimensions. This creature was the northern sea-cow (Rhytina stelleri), then found in vast numbers on the islands in question, but which within a period of thirty years from that date appears to have been totally exterminated by the hand of man. Indeed, had it not been for the fortunate circumstance that Behring was accompanied by the naturalist Steller, we should probably never even have heard of the very exist­ence of this animal, except through some slight mention in the accounts of certain contemporary voyagers. Unfor­tunately, no skins and only some imperfect skeletons of the animal appear to have been preserved by the survivors of Behring’s party; but of late years, a considerable number of more or less imperfect skeletons have been reclaimed from the frozen soil of the Commander Islands.

This gigantic Sirenian differed from all its allies in having no teeth, the functions of which were performed by the horny plates covering the palate and opposing surface of the lower jaw. The head was very small in proportion to the body; and the extremities of the jaws were some­what bent downwards. The tail was forked, after the manner of that of the dugong. The flippers were very small and truncated, and were covered with bristly hairs. Stel1er expressly states that there were no bones in the hand; and it is certain that none have hitherto been found. The skin was naked, and covered with a thick, rugged epi­dermis, which was compared to the bark of a tree; in places this epidermis was an inch in thickness, and so tough that it required the use of an axe to cut it. The skin, according to Steller’s description, was dark brown in colour, sometimes marked with streaks or spots of white. A drawing of the animal left by Waxell, the navigator of Behring’s party, represents it, however, as being marked with alternate dark and light transverse stripes. The skeleton herewith figured measures 19.5 feet in length, which would indicate a length of about 20 feet in the living state; but Steller states that the animal sometimes attained a length of from 25 to 30 feet. The girth of the body was 19 or 20 feet; and the estimated weight 8000 lbs.

Distribution and Habits. With the exception of a single rib from Altu, no remains of the northern sea-cow have been obtained elsewhere than on Barren and Copper Islands. It is, however, almost impossible to believe that such a large animal could always have had such a restricted distribution; and it is hence probable that, when discovered, this Sirenian was already on the wane, and that the Commander Islands were its last resorts from a more extended distribution. Not the least remarkable circumstance connected with this animal is that, although closely allied to the typical dugong, it should have inhabited such a cold and northerly region.

At the time of its discovery by Behring’s party, the northern sea-cow was abundant in the bays and river-mouths of the Commander Islands, where it lived in herds of considerable size. It fed chiefly on seaweeds, and more especially on the tangle which grows so abundantly in the northern seas. It was described as a stupid, sluggish, and comparatively helpless animal, which was unable to dive, and was not unfrequently washed ashore by the waves. From its inability to dive, it was compelled to obtain its food in shallow water; and from being often unable to approach the shore during the storms of winter, the animal was generally in poor condition by the spring.

Extermination. Within nine years of its discovery, the northern sea-cow was exterminated on Copper Island; while on Behring Island it had become very scarce by 1763, and the last of its race appears to have been killed in the year 1767 or 1768. It was long thought that the creature was practically ex­terminated by Behring’s party during their sojourn of ten months on the island named after their leader. This, however, was not the case, as they killed but very few. Soon after the return of Behring’s crew to Kamschatka several expeditions were fitted out for the purpose of wintering on the Commander Islands and hunt­ing fur-bearing animals; the sea-cows offering the inducement of an abundant supply of fresh food. Ships sailing to Alaska were also in the habit of touching at these islands to take in a supply of salted sea-cow meat. With such stupid and helpless habits as characterised the animal, it is no wonder that complete extirpa­tion was soon accomplished. Generally the sea-cow was harpooned from a boat; but by approaching stealthily hunters were also enabled to kill them with lances as they lay asleep near the shore.

STELLER’S RHYTINA (Rhytina stelleri) described in CASSELL’s NATURAL HISTORY (1901), edited by P Martin Duncan.

The Morskaia Korava of the Russians, and alone representative of the genus, is a creature now extinct, but which was living and in tolerable abundance a hundred and fifty years ago. When the Russian, Behring - after whom the Strait is named - first visited that region and the neighbourhood of Kamstchatka, there existed a huge animal, of which, under the name of Manatee, or Northern Sea Cow (Vacca marina), the naturalist Steller, who accompanied him, gave a classical account. It had a small oblong head, a full bristly snout, a dark-coloured body, protected by .a rugged, gnarled, warty, hairless skin. The fore limbs, were quite short and stumpy, hairy at their ends, and they had no finger-bones beyond the wrist. The tail was black, ending in a horizontal, stiff, half-moon-shaped, narrow fin-blade, fringed with a fibrous whalebone-like material. It had no teeth, but horny, almost bony plates, corresponding to the horny gum-pads of the Dugong and Manatee, served the purpose of mastication. According to Steller, it attained a length of from twenty to twenty-eight feet.

Though stupid, voiceless, animals, they were of a very affectionate disposition, and were easily tamed, even allowing themselves to be handled. Their conjugal affection was strikingly developed. A male, who in vain attempted to relieve his partner, stuck by her, in spite of repeated blows, and when she died he returned to the spot for some days, as if he expected to see her again. They were very voracious, and fed on seaweeds, with their heads under water; and every now and then they raised their noses to breathe, and made a snorting noise. They appeared in families, each consisting of a male, female, one half grown, and a cub born in autumn; and sometimes these families united into great herds. As they were very good eating (far preferable to salt junk), Steller recommended .them as articles of diet to the sailors; and so faithfully was his advice observed by natives and seamen, that within twenty-seven years of his first visit the last Rhytina was killed, namely, in 1768.

They were hunted with a boat-hook attached to a long rope, which, when the animal was struck, was passed to a company of men on shore, who, with considerable difficulty, managed to land the huge Sea Cow. This animal appears to have had an extremely limited range, having never been met with any­where but in the small Behring Island, off the coast of Kamstchatka. Their sudden extinction is a most noteworthy fact, and but for Steller’s admirable account nothing whatsoever would have been known of the habits, internal structure, or outward appearance of this singular Sirenian. Though the adults were toothless, yet by some it is supposed from analogy that in early life functionless teeth may have existed, though these never appeared above the gums. The Rhytina, in its forked tail, somewhat down-bent jaws, and other points, resembled the Dugong; while in skull characters and skin it was like the Manatee; and though somewhat whale-shaped, it was a true Sirenian.


Steller's original Latin work was published in St. Petersburg in 1751. An English translation appeared in 1899, in an appendix to "The Fur Seals and Fur-Seal Islands of the North Pacific Ocean". Steller described the animal as a Manatee in his description.

The Manatee

The following is a description of the manatee, or, as it is called by the Dutch, Vacca marina (sea cow), by the English, “sea cow,” and by the Russians, “Morskaia Korova;” the description is made from a female killed on the 12th of July, 1742, on Bering Island, which lies in the channel between America and Asia. It had, according to the English scale of measurement, the following dimensions [I have converted from inches and tenths to decimal]:

Length from the extremity of the upper lip to the extreme right cornu of the caudal fork: 296 ins From the extremity of the upper lip to the nares: 8 ins From the narial septum (columna narium) to the anterior angle of the eye: 13.5 ins From the anterior angle to the posterior angle of the eye: 0.8 ins Distance between the eyes at the anterior angles: 17.4 ins Distance between the eyes at the posterior angles: 22.2 ins The breadth of the narial septum (columna narium) at its base: 1.5 inch Height of the nares: 2.5 ins Breadth of the nares: 2.5 ins From the extremity of the upper lip to the angle of the mouth (oris froenum): 15.5 ins From the extremity of the upper lip to the shoulder: 52 ins From the extremity of the upper lip to the opening of the vulva: 194 ins Length of the vulva: 10.2 ins Length of the tail from the anal sphincter to the region of the caudal fin: 75.5 ins Circumference of the head above the nostrils (supra nares): 31 ins Circumference of the head at the eyes: 48 ins Circumference of the neck at the nape (nucham): 82 ins Height of the end of the snout: 8.4 ins Circumference of the body at the shoulders: 144 ins The greatest circumference about the middle of the abdomen: 244 ins The circumference of the tail at the origin (insertio) of the fin: 56 ins Distance between the extreme points of the caudal fin (this is the breadth of the fin): 78 ins Height of the fin: 8.8 ins The whole length of the inner lip, which is villous and rough, like a brush: 5.2 ins Width of the same: 2.5 ins The width of the exterior upper lip, which stands obliquely to the lower jaw and is covered all over with rather long, white bristles: 14 ins Height of the same: 10 ins The breadth of the lower lip, which is hairless, black, smooth, and slopes toward the sternum, and is heart-shaped: 7.4 ins Height of the same: 6.8 ins From the lower lip to the sternum: 54 ins The diameter of the mouth at the angle (oris froenum): 20.4 ins From the pharynx to the end of the oesophagus: 32 ins The width, or rather length, of the stomach: 44 ins The whole intestinal tract, from pharynx to anus: 5,968 ins And so it is 20.5 times as long as the whole animal.

From pudenda to anal sphincter: 8 ins Diameter of the trachea below the glottis: 4.2 ins Height of the heart: 22 ins Width of the heart: 25 ins Length of the kidneys: 32 ins Width of the kidneys: 18 ins Length of the tongue: 12 ins Width of the tongue: 2.5 ins Length of the nipples: 4 ins Width of the humerus: 14.5 ins Length of the ulna: 12.2 ins Length of the skull from nares to occiput: 27 ins Width of the occiput: 10.5 ins

Description of the External Parts

This animal belongs practically to the sea, and is not amphibious, although some authorities have so narrated; but they have misunderstood the stories of some others who tell of its feeding upon vegetation about the shores of the sea and rivers. But by this was meant not the vegetation of the land, but seaweed that grows out in the water on the shore of the sea. This seemed quite an unwelcome fact (that it fed on seaweed) and most absurd to Celsius Clusius, who had seen a whole hide stuffed with straw; but it is found to be so also in the case of the living beast (strange as it is true), if one will but have regard to its form, movements, and habits.

It is covered with a thick hide, more like unto the bark of an ancient oak than unto the skin of an animal; the manatee’s hide is black, mangy, wrinkled, rough, hard, and tough; it is void of hairs, and almost impervious to an ax or to the point of a hook. It is an inch thick, and a transverse section of it is very like unto ebony both in smoothness and in color. This exterior cortex, however, is not skin (cutis), but cuticle (cuticula); but in the dorsal region it is smooth. From the nape to the caudal fin the surface is uneven with nothing but circular wrinkles, but the sides are exceedingly rough, especially about the head, and bristling with many cup-shaped prominences like stemless mushrooms (pezicas). This cuticle which surrounds the whole body like a crust is frequently an inch in thickness; and it is composed of nothing but tubules, in the same way as we observe in the Spanish cane or Mambu of the Indians and Chinese (ac in arundine videmus Hispanicove Mambu Indorum et Sinensium). The structure of these tubules is perpendicular to the skin. Longitudinally they can not be torn or separated from one another. The tubules are implanted in the lower part of the skin; they are roundish, convex, bulbous, and hence pieces of the skin that are torn off from the cuticle are full of tubercles like Spanish bark, and the underlying cutis is excavated with a great many very small holes, like a thimble (netricum digitale), which were before the receptacles of the bulbous tubules of the cuticle. Now, these tubules rest upon one another very closely; they are tenacious, wet, and tumid, and they do not appear when the cuticle is cut horizontally, but the surface is smooth, as the hoofs of certain animals when they are cut. But as soon as it is hung up in pieces and exposed to the sun and becomes dry, it has perpendicular fissures and can be broken like bark, and then this tubulous structure comes clearly to view. Through these tubes a thin, serous mucus is exuded, in larger quantities on the sides and about the head, and in smaller quantities on the back. When the animal has lain for some hours upon the dry shore, the back becomes dry, but the head and sides are always wet.

Now, this thick cuticle seems given to the animal for two purposes principally: (1) That, inasmuch as the animal is compelled, for the sake of getting a living, to live continuously in rough and rugged places, and in the winter among the ice, it may not rub off the skin, or that it may not be beaten by the heavy waves and bruised with the stones, and when pursued it is protected by this coat of mail; (2) that the natural heat may not be dissipated in the summer by too profuse perspiration (nimium transpirando), or completely counteracted by the cold of winter. And that would be natural, for it has to live, not in the depths of the sea as other animals and fishes, but it is always compelled in feeding to expose half of its body to the cold.

I have observed in the case of many that were cast up dead upon the shore of the sea, that the cuticle had been broken off on one side or the other, and that that had been the cause of their death; and this happens principally in the winter time, from the ice. And I observed many times in animals that had been captured and drawn on shore with a hook, that great pieces of cuticle had been pulled off in consequence of the violent thrashing of its body and tail and its resisting with its front feet, and that the broken piece of cuticle that covered the arms and caudal fin was like a hoof; all this goes to make my opinion stronger. Cuticle of exactly the same sort covers the whale (balaena), although no mention is made of it by the authorities; and almost the whole of the cuticle was rubbed off from a whale that was washed up dead upon our island on the 1st day of August, for during several days it had been tossed about by the waves, this way and that, and bruised upon the rocks before it came to our shore.

While this cuticle is wet it is tawny black, like the skin of a smoked ham, but when it is dry it is wholly black. In certain animals it is marked with rather large white spots and zones, and this color penetrates clear to the cutis. This cuticle about the head, eyes, ears, breasts, and under the arms, where it is rough, is thickly infested by insects, and it frequently happens that they perforate the cuticle and wound even the cutis itself. When this happens, large, thick, warty prominences arise from the lymph of the cutis, or from the broken glands that preserve the oil, as it were, in the little cells, in the same manner as in whales, and oftentimes make the above-mentioned places foul. Under the cuticle lies the cutis surrounding the whole body. This is 2 lines thick, soft, white, very firm in strength and structure just like that of the whale, and it can be put to the same uses.

In comparison with the huge mass of the rest of its body the head is small, short, and closely connected with the body; in figure it is a square oblong, widening from the top toward the lower jaw. The top itself is flat and covered with a black cuticle, exceedingly scraggly and a third part thinner than the rest of the cuticle and more easily torn off. The head slopes from the occiput to the nares and slopes again from the nares to the lips. The end of the snout is 8 inches high and grows rapidly thicker from the nose to the occiput. The opening of the mouth (rictus oris) is not underneath (supinus), but in a line with the sides; but the exterior upper lip is so large, broad, and oblique to the angle of the mouth, and lengthened out so much above the inferior mandible, that to one who looks at the head alone the opening seems to be located underneath. The opening of the month itself is not very large in proportion to the animal, nor is it necessary that it should be, as it lives on seaweed.

The lips, both the upper and the lower, are double and divided into external and internal lips. The external upper lip, finishing the end of the snout obliquely, is like a half circle; it is flat, tumid, thick, 14 inches broad, 10 inches high, in color a glossy white, and overgrown with a great many little hills or tubercles, from the center of each one of which grows a white, translucent bristle 4 or 5 inches long. The internal upper lip is 5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. It is everywhere detached from the external lip, and fastened to it only at the base; it overhangs the palate, and it looks like a calf’s tongue, all villous and rough like a brush. It closes the mouth firmly above; it is movable, and by its own motion serves to tear off the seaweed and bring it into its mouth; for it feeds in the same way as horses and cattle, by protruding its lips and bending them outward.

The lower lip is likewise double; the external lip is black, and smooth, and without bristles; it is roughly heart-shaped and like a chin, if we may so call it; it is 7 inches wide and 6.8 inches high. The internal lower lip is separated likewise from the external; it is villous and is not visible when the mouth is closed, because the external lip reaches out and covers it; and being set opposite the internal upper lip it closes the mouth firmly. When the lower mandible is applied to the upper, the space which intervenes when both are closed is filled up with a dense array of very thick white bristles 1.5 inches long. These bristles prevent anything from falling out of the mouth while the animal masticates, or from being washed out with water which flows into the mouth and is driven out again through the opening when the mouth is closed. The bristles are as thick as a dove’s quill; they are white, hollow inside, bulbous below, and, even without the aid of a microscope, they show clearly the structure of the human hair.

If the animal lies prone upon its belly, the end of its snout on a line perpendicular from the nares to the lips is 8 inches high and is rounded in front, like a ball, from the nose to the ends of the lips and also to the lateral regions of the upper jaw. It grows thicker and increases rapidly in circumference. The external lips are very prominent, thick and swollen, and perforated with a great many large pores, like a cat’s, from each one of which grows a strong white bristle; these bristles are perceptibly stouter the nearer they are to the opening of the mouth itself. Of the bristles those were especially noticeable for thickness which grow between the lips of either jaw. They take the place of teeth in pulling off the seaweed and prevent anything from falling out of the mouth while the animal masticates. The inferior maxilla is shorter than the superior; it alone is movable, but the lips of both maxillae move, as do the lips of cattle. With these the submarine plants which they tear off from the rocks with their arms are so cut off from the hard, uneatable roots and stems that they seem to be cut off with the edge of a dull knife. When the tide comes in these roots and stems are washed ashore, and lying there in great heaps on the seashore they betray to the visitor the present quarters of these guests, inasmuch as the stems of sea plants are tougher and thicker than those of land plants, the lips are made much stronger and harder than are the lips of any of the land animals; therefore the lips are also inedible, and can not be softened by boiling or in any other way. The internal structure of the lips is so arranged that when cut they are like a checkerboard, consisting of very small squares; there are countless very small, thick, red, rhomboid or trapezoid squares, with which others that are white, tendinous, full of cells like network and containing liquid oil, are interspersed in equal numbers. These lips when boiled in water very easily yield a great amount of oil, and when this oil is tried out the white cells appear like so much tendinous network.

The purpose of this structure seems to me to be a threefold one: (1) That the strength and density of the lips may be increased, and that they may not be so easily exposed to any danger from without; (2) that the heavy lips may be more easily raised and moved, inasmuch as the origin and insertion of the muscles (caput et caudae horum musculorum) are so disposed that the origin of the muscles is set obliquely to the opening of the mouth, and the insertion of the muscles obliquely to the top of the head; so that with their beginnings and ends the lips make, as it were, a wreath of muscles; (3) that by means of this structure the lips may be moved with a sort of spiral motion, and that, since the head on account of the continuous thick crust can be moved only with difficulty, it may not be necessary for them to move the whole body as often as they wish to pull off the tenacious seaweed.

They masticate differently from all other animals; not with teeth, which they lack altogether, but with two strong white bones, or solid tooth masses, one of which is set in the palate and the other is fastened in the inferior maxilla, and corresponds to the first. The insertion itself, or connection, is entirely anomalous, and would be expressed by no known name; gomphosis we can not call it, because the bones are not fastened in the maxillae, but each is held by many papillae and pores, pores and papillae alternating, in the palate and in the inferior mandible. Besides, in front it is inserted into the papillary membrane of the internal upper lip, and at the sides in the grooved edge of the bone, and at the back, with a double process, into the palate and inferior maxilla, and is in this way made firm. These molar bones are perforated below with many little holes, like a thimble (netricum digitale), or like a sponge, in which the arteries and nerves are inserted in the same way as in the teeth of other animals. Above they are smooth and excavated with many winding, wavy canals, and between them are eminences which in mastication fit into the canals of the corresponding bone so perfectly that the seaweed (fuci) is ground and mashed between them as between a fuller’s beams or between millstones. I have had a drawing made of these bones, which will explain more clearly what is less intelligible from the description.

The nose is situated in the farthest tip of the head, as in the horse; there are two nostrils, and a thick cartilaginous column 1.5 inches wide between them. The nostrils themselves are 2 inches long and just as wide in diameter. They are flat, and stretch back with many curves or labyrinths. Inside, the nostrils are very wide, wrinkled, and covered over with a nervous membrane, which is perforated with many black pores. From each pore grows a bristle as thick as cobbler’s waxed-end, a half inch long; they are easy to pull out, and they take the place of vibrissae in other animals.

The eyes are situated exactly half way between the end of the snout and the ears in a line parallel with the top of the nostrils, or just a very little higher. They are very small in proportion to so huge a body, being no larger than a sheep’s eyes. They are not provided with shutters, or lids, or any other external apparatus, but protrude from the skin through a round opening, scarcely a half inch in diameter. The iris of the eye is black, the ball livid; the canthi of the eye are not seen except when the skin is cut away around the opening of the eye. At the inner canthus of the eye there is a cartilaginous crest (precisely like that of the sea otter), which, when necessity arises, covers over the whole eye and takes the place of a nictitating membrane adapted to warding off and removing any injury that might chance to fall while the animal feeds. This cartilaginous crest in the back part constitutes one wall of the lachrymal sac, with which it is joined by a common nervous membrane. When the lachrymal sac is cut a great amount of sticky mucus is found in its cavity. The sac itself would easily hold a chestnut, and inside it is enveloped in a glandular membrane.

The ears outside open only with a small hole, like the seal’s. There is not the slightest trace of an external ear, and the holes can be seen only by examining very closely; for the opening of the ears can not be distinguished from the rest of the pores, and would scarcely admit the quill of a chicken’s feather. The internal canal of the ears is smooth and covered with a highly polished black skin, and when the muscles of the occiput are separated from it, as they may easily be, it betrays itself by its own color and can be seen.

The tongue is 12 inches long and 2.5 inches wide; and is like that of an ox. It is pointed at the end and the surface is rough with short papillae like a file. It is so deeply hidden away in the fauces that to many the animal has seemed to be without a tongue; for drawn as far forward as it may be by the hand, it still can not be made to reach the froenum, but will fall short of it by 1.5 inches. If it were longer, as in other animals, it would be in the way in mastication.

The head, like the neck, is ill defined, and joins the body in such a way that a line of distinction is nowhere visible, as is the case with all fishes; but what obscurely suggests a neck is shorter by one-half than the head itself, and is cylindrical and more slender than the occiput in circumference. Notwithstanding, it is not only constructed with movable vertebrae, but has its independent action, a motion observed in the living animal only when it feeds; for it bends its head in the same way as cattle on dry land, but the thick and shapeless cuticle makes the quiet or dead animal look as though it were provided with an immovable neck, for no trace of vertebrae is to be seen at all.

From the shoulders toward the umbilical region it grows rapidly wider, and from there on to the anus it again grows rapidly slender; the sides are roundish and paunched like a belly which is swollen with a great mass of intestines, and elastic and puffed up like an inflated skin, and diminishes in size from the umbilical region toward the anus, and again from the mammae toward the neck. When the animals are fat, as they are in spring and summer, the back is slightly convex; but in winter, when they are thin, the back is flat and excavated at the spine with a hollow on either side, and at such times all the vertebrae with their spinous processes can be seen. The ribs rise on both sides in an arch to the back, and where they are joined to the vertebrae of the back by amphiarthrosis, as they are in a man, they extend downward like a bow, and in the place where they are joined on both sides to the vertebrae they make a double hollow on the back.

At the twenty-sixth vertebra the tail begins, and continues with thirty-five vertebrae. The tail grows perceptibly thinner toward the fin. It is not so much flat as rather somewhat quadrangular, for all the vertebrae of the tail have two epiphyses [zygapophyses] and four processes. Of these the lateral processes are broad, flat, and blunt at the point. The spinous process on the dorsal side or spine (processus superior in dorso seu spina) is sharpened; the lower one is a broad, flat bone, like unto a Greek lambda. This is joined by a cord to the main body of the tail and is fastened to it with very strong ligaments and tendons. As a result of this quadruple position the muscles of the tail fill these cavities of the vertebrae and the angles between the processes, and so the tail itself gets the form of a square oblong with obtuse angles.

For the rest the tail is thick, very powerful, and ends in a very hard, stiff, black fin, which is not divided into rays, but solid, and is in substance like prepared whale-bone, and consists of nothing but layers, one upon the other, as if one solid piece. This fin is frayed out for a distance of 9 inches from the extremity, and is something like the fins of fishes that are spined with a ruder sort of spines. The fin itself that ends the tail is 78 inches wide or long, 7.3 inches high, and 1.5 inches thick, and is inserted in the muscles of the tail as if by gomphosis, or a triangular canal. (There is an evident omission here, as these measurements would give the animal an absurdly narrow tail, whereas we know from the references to the power of the animal, as well as from the figures that have been preserved, that the flukes were broad and powerful. The vertebræ and their muscles lie in the fibrous mass of the flukes as if driven in. — ED. [1899 note]) The fin of the tail is somewhat forked, and both cornua, differently from the tail fins of larger sea fishes, as the shark and the like, are of the same magnitude. In this respect it agrees with the whale. And so the caudal fin is parallel with the sides, as is the case of the phocaena and balaena [baleen whales], and not with the back, as is the case with most fishes. With a gentle sidewise motion of its tail it swims gently forward; with an up-and-down motion of the tail it drives itself violently forward and struggles to escape from the hands of enemies who are trying to draw it in.

The strangest feature of all, in which this animal differs from all other animals both of land and sea and from amphibia, is its arms, or, if you please, its front feet; for two arms, 26.5 inches long, consisting of two articulations, are joined immediately to the shoulders at the neck. The end of the humerus is joined to the scapula by arthrodia. The ulna and radius are like a man’s; the ulna and radius terminate bluntly with tarsus and metatarsus. There are no traces of fingers, nor are there any of nails or hoofs; but the tarsus and metatarsus are covered with solid fat, many tendons and ligaments, cutis and cuticle, as an amputated human limb is covered with skin. But both the cutis, and especially the cuticle, are much thicker, harder, and drier there, and so the ends of the arms are something like claws, or rather like a horse’s hoof; but a horse’s hoof is sharper and more pointed, and so better suited to digging. On the back (supine) these claws are smooth and convex, but underneath they are flat and hollowed out in a way, and rough with countless very closely set bristles, half an inch long and hard like a brush.

I have seen in one animal these claws divided into two parts, like an ox’s hoof. The division, however, was no more than marked, and that only in the cuticle; this happened more by mere chance than by the will of nature, and was the more easy and the more possible as the cuticle that covered the claws was disposed on account of its dryness to crack. Now, this Platonic man, as the eminent John Ray was pleased in jest to call him, performs with these arms various offices: with these he swims, as with branchial fins; with these he walks on the shallows of the shore, as with feet; with these he braces and supports himself on the slippery rocks; with these he digs out and tears off the algae and seagrasses from the rocks, as a horse would do with its front feet; with these he fights, and when taken with a hook and dragged from the water upon dry land he resists so vehemently that the cuticle surrounding these arms is often torn and pulled off in pieces; and finally with these the female when smitten with the sting of passion, swimming prone upon her back, embraces her covering lover and holds him and permits herself in turn to be embraced.

The two breasts are different from those of most other animals, but in place and form are exactly as in man; they are situated one under each arm; and one breast is a foot and a half in diameter, convex, rough with many spiral wrinkles, full of glands, very hard — harder than a cow’s — and without any intermingling fat. But the adipose tissue that surrounds the whole body rests upon them only with the same thickness as everywhere else, but the cuticle is thinner there and softer, and more wrinkled, and the papillae are likewise surrounded with a black cuticle with circular wrinkles, but soft. Under the arm itself, or axilla, the breast hangs, and when the animal is in milk the nipple is 4 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter; in those, however, which have gone dry, or have not yet given birth, it is so short and contracted that it seems nothing more than a chance wart, for the breast is not swollen. The milk is very rich and sweet, and in consistency is very much like sheep’s milk, and very often it was my wont to get the milk in large quantities from dead ones in the same way as from cows. The nipple is very much wrinkled and a little higher than the rest of the breast. When the glands are cut they give out milk which is like that which I collected by squeezing the papillae. Ten or twelve lacteal ducts open into each papilla. The breasts when boiled are a little harder than beef, and give out the odor of game, but mild.

They come together after the human fashion, the male above and the female below. The penis of the male is 32 inches long, and with its sheath is bound firmly in front to the abdomen, and reaches clear to the navel — in a word, it is very coarse and obscene to look upon, very much like that of a horse, and ends with the same sort of a gland, only larger. The female pudenda lie 8 inches above the anus. The opening of the vulva is almost a triangle, and wider above, where the clitoris lies, and narrower toward the anus. The opening itself would without difficulty admit five fingers together. The clitoris is about 1.5 inches long. It is cartilaginous and surrounded with a very strong, smooth skin, and is uneven, with many short wrinkles that fold together. The skin is variegated with yellow and white, and so is the vulva. The labia vulvae are very rigid and hard. The urethra empties into the vulva about 5 inches from the opening of the vulva. Below this is stretched a strong, crescent-shaped membrane, partly muscular and partly tendinous, which separates the vulva from the vagina uteri, properly so called, with a sort of vestibule, and makes a kind of hymen. But the aperture between the cornua of this membrane is so large that the penis of the male can without any difficulty enter the vagina. The vagina itself is 9.5 inches long and covered with a very strong, fibrous membrane, which is ribbed longitudinally and hollowed out upon its surface with many furrows; between these furrows are seen a great many glands not larger than a pin’s head, which secrete the mucus with which the vagina is covered all over. Next appears the uterus itself, spherical in shape, in size as large as the head of a cat. When I cut it open it was covered with mucus in the same way as the vagina, and wrinkled with a great number of folds half an inch wide. The substance of the vagina was so hard that I could scarcely cut it with a knife. The ligaments of the uterus and of the fallopian tubes had precisely the same structure as those of a horse.

The anus is situated 8½ inches below the pudenda. It is closed by a sphincter that is not very tightly contracted. In diameter it is 4 inches wide. The sphincter is white; the inside coating of the rectal intestine is smooth, slippery, olive-gray, just as in horses, where it is sometimes black, sometimes white spotted.

Description of the Internal Parts

I opened the heads of four animals, and with the greatest painstaking I searched for the stones, incorrectly so called, of the manatee. But so far was I from being able to find anything in the least like a stone or bone that from this I decided that either those bones were not found in all of them, or were, found only in certain climates, or, what seemed more probable, that Schröder and others who describe these bones as having the form of a ball, had, like too superficial and untrustworthy compilers, given it this round form after the analogy of the bezoar stone, and that they had never with their eyes seen stones or bones of the manatee as they described; and so we should rather understand that they meant the masticatory bones, or those white tooth masses to be found in the palate and inferior maxilla; and this was the more likely, as the description given by the eminent Samuel von Dale in his Pharmacologia coincides with my own; and his description also corresponds to these masticatory bones. For he gives, perhaps from autopsy, because he did not understand the mechanism of these bones, the following description: “The stone of the manatee is a white crustaceous bone similar to ivory, taken from the head, and it is of various forms,” by which he no doubt meant to indicate the openings and meanderings of various forms to be seen upon the surface of both bones (These bones are undoubtedly the ear bones, and that Steller failed to find them is due to the fact that he looked for them inside the cranial cavity. The ear bones of Rytina are not unlike those of the existing Manatee. — ED. [1899 note])

The cranium is very solid; it has but little cerebrum, and the cerebrum is not separated from the cerebellum by any bony plate. Of the rest I could observe nothing striking. The oesophagus or gullet is very capacious. Inside it is surrounded with a very tough, white, fibrous membrane, and with many perpendicular wrinkles and folds it goes to the stomach, and there, before it ends, it concludes with a large number of little triangular appendices one line long, which turn back upward toward the oesophagus. The use of these is, I think, that they may hinder the reflux of the food back into the gullet, and at first sight they refute the preposterous opinion that has been held in regard to the animal’s being a ruminant. The oesophagus is inserted into the stomach nearly at the middle, as in the horse and the hare. The stomach is of stupendous size, 6 feet long, 5 feet wide, and so stuffed with food and seaweed that four strong men with a rope attached to it could with great effort scarcely move it from its place and drag it out. The coats of the stomach could not by any means be separated; together they were 3 lines thick. A very strange fat omentum 2 lines thick surrounds the stomach. In the upper part it adheres firmly at the middle to the membranous coat of the stomach; for the rest, it is detached and seems more to warm the stomach with its own heat than to hold it in place.

The inner coat of the stomach is white, smooth, and not wrinkled nor villous. But what was most peculiar, and perhaps incredible to many, is that I found contained in the stomach, and not far from the entrance of the oesophagus into the stomach, an oval gland as large as a man’s head, and grown fast to it something like a large aneurism between the muscular and fibrous (nervosa) coat; this gland opened through the villous coat with many pores and openings and exuded into the cavity of the stomach a great quantity of whitish liquid, in consistency and color like pancreatic juice. I had as a witness of this curious phenomenon the assistant surgeon, Bettge. What the character of this juice was I discovered by a double chance experiment; when I inserted a silver tube through the pores of the inner coat, in order to discover by blowing into them the excretory ducts, the tube came out black, as is wont to happen when silver touches sulphurous acid. I observed the same thing when I ordered Archippus Konovalow, the helper of the assistant surgeon, to take out the contents of the stomach with his hands, and when this was done a silver ring that he had upon his finger was stained with the same color.

The inner coat of the stomach was perforated by white worms half a foot long, with which the whole stomach, pylorus and duodenum, swarmed; and the worms had penetrated clear into the cavity of the glands. The gland when cut poured out a great quantity of juice. After that I could not examine any more stomachs, because I lacked the necessary assistance; and with the few men I had I could not, if I found an animal lying anywhere, turn it over upon its back; and therefore I am in doubt whether this gland is a constant thing or rather the result of some disease. The pylorus was so large and tumid that at first sight I took it for a second stomach and was anxious to find the two others, too, because I thought the animal was a ruminant. But when I cut into the pylorus I was otherwise informed, and from its being like the stomach I saw that it was the pylorus. But to my misfortune it happened that the pancreas along with the duct into the duodenum and the ductus choledochus were cut, for the simple reason that the stomach could not be taken out whole with the liver on account of its great size, and besides, my assistants,who had been hired for just one’ hour with tobacco, which took the place of money, became tired of the work. Yet I recognized that the pancreas was divided into two lobes and composed of many flat, rather large glands, and that it was, for so large an animal, comparatively small; for it did not extend in length beyond 4 inches.

There are more intestines in this animal than in any other, except, perhaps, the whale alone, which hitherto I have not been in a position to inspect. The abdominal cavity was so full that the abdomen was tumid and swollen like an inflated skin. Hence, when the common coverings and muscles of the abdomen were removed and the peritoneum received ever so slight a wound, the wind came out with such a whistle and hum as it is wont to come from an aeolipile. For the same reason the whole abdomen is covered with a very strong double, membranous, fibrous peritoneum for holding in the intestines. The peritoneum reaches from the os pubis to the sternum, and is attached on both sides to the false ribs, from each one of which strong tendons, spreading out in many rectilinear branches, run from both sides to the linea alba; and when the muscles of the abdomen on the surface of the peritoneum are removed the tendons meeting each other and crossing each other make the surface of the peritoneum tessellated like a checkerboard, and present a pleasing spectacle to the eye. Other like tendons grow from the inner side of the ribs and are seen to intertwine (impexi) tightly with the peritoneum on the inside, increasing its firmness as with horizontal processes. Both membranes run into a single one in the middle about the linea alba, but toward the sides they are double.

When the peritoneum is cut the intestines gush out violently, and without any outside assistance they move from their original place, because they are found always so tightly stuffed that from oesophagus to anus they make a solid pack without any open space. The thin intestines are smooth, rolled up in a great amount of fat; they are round and 6 inches broad in diameter. If only a very slight aperture should be made with the point of a knife, the liquid excrement (a ridiculous thing to behold) would squirt out violently like blood from a ruptured vein; and not infrequently the face of the spectator would be drenched by this springing fountain whenever some one opened a canal upon his neighbor opposite, for a joke.

The coecum was very large, as was also the colon, and by a ligament that extended lengthwise on either side was divided into many little cells. But the valve of the colon I could not find, search as I might. To be brief, the intestines were different from a horse’s in size and capacity alone, but not in structure. And so the final product of this workshop is so like the excrement of horses, in shape, size, smell, and color, and all other attributes, that it would deceive the most expert stable boy. And I will not deny that on the first days after our arrival on the island I was ignominiously deceived; I considered it no slight marvel, but I did not make the boast to have found what the boys did in the beans (faba; fabula (?) ),when I found the stuff frozen together and so inexplicable (cimmelium). Now, I, not knowing from whence it came, argued from utterly false premises to an absolutely true conclusion that America lay opposite this island and not far away (for up to that time the continent had not been seen on account of the autumnal fog). But since horses are not kept in Kamchatka, but are kept in parts of America, the fact that the dung was brought over there whole and not dissolved, was an unquestionable proof of the proximity of land. The whole intestinal tract, from gullet to anus, when this Augean stable was thoroughly cleansed, measured fully 5,968 inches, and so the intestines are twenty and a half times as long as the whole living animal.

The mesentery is exceedingly thick and half covered with a mass of little glands, varying in size from that of the acorn to that of the walnut. The lacteal, as well as the lymphatic vessels, I could not observe because of the opacity of the very fat, thick mesentery, although I searched while the intestines were still warm, for the veins are only obscurely and darkly transparent, inasmuch as they are as thick as one’s finger. A very strong, double membrane constitutes the pleura. Inside this, one continuous muscle an inch thick is interposed and covers both sides.

The urinary bladder, 2 lines thick, was very strong, but not larger than a man’s head, and smaller than the bladder of an ox. The trachea is composed of long, cartilaginous circles or semicircles, but has an entirely anomalous structure. One continuous piece of cartilage is twisted into a spiral and covered with a strong continuous membrane, both inside and outside. But the spirals of the trachea are not everywhere equal in breadth, but in some places the edge of the upper circle is hollowed out to receive the opposite eminence of the lower circle, and so makes it crooked. And so, by the help of this double membrane that encircles the trachea, the spirals are kept from being dislocated, either inside or outside. Through this mutual intertwining the rings are prevented from being loosened laterally. By this spiral structure the trachea is separated into branches below the glottis and reaches to the bronchi, and is seen to be such in the very substance of the lungs; it is so constructed for no other reason, perhaps, than that by the continuity of these spirals the huge mass of lungs may be more easily lifted up in breathing; for neither muscles nor anything else give so much help to the motion of lungs, which are situated in the back.

The glottis is like that of an ox, but is closed by the epiglottis much more closely and firmly than is the case in the land quadrupeds, so the epiglottis is in proportion much thicker. The diameter of the trachea below the glottis is 4.2 inches. The thyroid gland is very large, and when cut it poured out a large quantity of liquid of double consistency and color: that which came from the larger exterior glands when cut was of the color of milk, but thicker than sheep’s milk, and sweet to the taste; that which came from the middle portion of the gland or receptacle for the gland was contained in a membranous sac of its own; it was glutinous and had the consistency of meal poultice; it was somewhat sweet, with a very slight taste of bitter, and was yellowish-white in color. It occurred to me only in the last animal that I opened to make a closer inspection of this gland. I am very sorry that I did not think of it sooner, and take the pains to have the trachea, with the gullet, heart, and the rest of the viscera taken out entire. But it was not possible without the help of many men to do so with an animal so huge. If I had been in a position to do that, I should have observed whether or not it unloaded this liquid through some tube into a duct of its own, or into the stomach, as Vercellonius thought, or somewhere else. I saw the duct only after it was cut, but whither it led I neither saw nor do I wish to conjecture.

As to the heart it differs in many respects from the heart of all other animals: (1) In regard to situation, the apex of the heart stands in a line oblique to the sternum, the base in a line oblique to the back. (2) As to connection, the heart does not rest against the mediastinum, but is detached on every side and has no mediastinum at all. (3) It has a pericardium (but this does not envelope the heart closely) and a sac; but it forms rather a species of cavity in the thorax and lines the thorax. Toward the back and the base of the heart the pericardium is nearer to the heart than it is anywhere else. When the animal is feeding, the heart itself, with the pericardium, hangs not quite perpendicularly but somewhat obliquely from back to sternum; and so there the pericardium takes the place of a mediastinum. Lower down toward the abdomen the pericardium is fastened to the inner wall of the diaphragm, and with it constitutes one wall; and so it rests against the pleura at the sides. (4) As to size, when placed in a scale it weighed 34.75 pounds, and was from base to apices 2 feet 2 inches long, and from the extremity of one auricle to the other 2.5 feet broad; and so it was broader than it was long. (5) As to form, it was broad and thick, rather than long, and what was the greatest peculiarity of all it ended, not like a top in one apex but, in accordance with the number of ventricles, in two apices. Now, this slit in the apex extends to one-third the length of the heart, and from there on the two apices coalesce in one and form the septum of the heart, dividing the ventricles. The left apex is just a little longer than the right and thicker in circumference. The ventricles of the heart are extended farther below the septum, each into its own apex. The chordae tendineae and the columnae carniae (cordis trabes) or sulci (furrows) exceed the equipment of the human heart, not only in size and strength but also in number. The valves are the same in the pulmonary vein, the vena cava, the aorta, and the pulmonary artery, as in a man. The base of the heart is surrounded with a great quantity of thick fat that is placed around it like packing, distributed everywhere to the thickness of half an inch. Below this the large coronary veins of the heart are seen, covered inside with little valves which I have never observed anywhere else before in any other animal. With great care I searched for the foramen ovale and for the ductus arteriosus Botalli, but in vain. When I cut through the cavity of the pericardium I found it half full of liquid, so that even by this quantity alone I was led to believe that this liquid was unnatural (praeter naturalem), and that at the end it had been collected into this cavity, from whatsoever source it may have been secreted, in consequence of the slow and distressing death of the animal.

The lungs are two very long, white lobes that extend to the middle of the abdomen, one on either side along the dorsal spine. They are, however, detached, and not fastened anywhere, in which respect they differ from the lungs of birds, although they agree with them in respect to their position in the back. Either lobe is covered outside with a very strong membrane, and so if one should think only of the external structure and color of the lungs one would scarcely consider them to be lungs at all.

The liver consists of two very large lobes and a third of quite peculiar form; the third is almost square and looks like a blacksmith’s anvil. It is situated half way between the two larger lobes, and is raised above them and lies immediately under the sternum. Outside, the liver is covered with a very strong fibrous membrane, so that it suggests anything but a liver. Through this membrane, in the gibbous part, the branches of the coeliac vessels (venae celiacae) excessively tumid, shine through like a tree, blue in color. When this membrane was cut the substance of the liver appeared, in color a tawny yellow, like that of an ox, but externally soft and most delicate in structure, so that at the touch it dissolved as if putrid under my hand.

The animal has no gall bladder. But the ductus choledochus, like that of a horse, would easily admit five fingers together; and so it was very capacious; it was half a line thick and very strong, whitish outside and yellow inside, and, opening into the duodenum, it coalesces along with the pancreatic duct into one canal. The kidneys are hidden away in a cavity of the lumbar region on either side of the dorsal spine. They are 32 inches long and 18 inches wide; they have the ordinary form of kidneys and are included in a very strong membrane; when this was removed there appeared a great number of renules of the same form, as in the seal and the sea otter, but in size they were much larger than these. They were 2 inches long and 1.5 inches wide on the surface, and they were pyramidal in form toward the interior. Each one of these lobules (renunculi) is provided with an urethra, papillae, and artery of its own. The urethras form six larger principal branches, and at last carry down the urine through one canal to the urinary bladder. But the pelvis is like an elephant’s.

I overlooked the suprarenal capsules (capsulae atribilariae), and also the spleen, and likewise the internal organs of generation, and many other things which occurred to me in order only when I had no longer time nor opportunity for making full observations.

Brief Description of the Bones

As to the bones of the manatee, the bones of the head in respect to strength and firmness are like those of a horse, but in respect to size and thickness they surpass the bones of all animals of the land.

The bones of the head taken together are not larger than a horse’s head, nor are they very different in respect to form and articulation. The cranium is anteriorly entire, without any suture, extending toward the nasal bones (Really the frontals. - Editor. [1899 note]) in two hard processes, and joining the nasal and maxillary bones by an arthrodia, while the nasals join the maxillaries by ginglimus. The nasal bones meet in a rough suture. The temporal bone joins the cranium by suture, but the occipital by coalescence, being very hard and almost like rock. The inferior maxillary in adults consists of one bone, in calves of two.

The head from the nares to the occiput is 27 inches long, and at the occiput 13.5 inches wide (Given in the previous table as 10½.— ED. [1899 note]). There are sixty vertebrae in all: six in the neck, nineteen in the back, and thirty-five in the tail. There are five pairs of true ribs and twelve of false.

The body of the vertebrae of the neck is narrow, in general structure like the vertebrae of the horse’s neck. How much they differ in certain special features I will not indicate, as I have no books nor a horse’s skeleton, nor should I trust my memory or imagination. The spines of the dorsal vertebrae are sharp and broad, and in lean animals, as there is no thick cuticle or thick adipose tissue in the way, they are perfectly visible. The vertebrae of the back in the region of the stomach and liver are ridged on the inside, but all the rest are rounded and lack this sharpened prominence. The vertebrae of the tail have each four processes; the lateral processes are long and broad; the superior process is like the lateral process in width but is shorter; and the inferior processes (chevrons) are single bones like the Greek lambda in shape, and are fastened to the body of the vertebrae by a cord and held firmly with very strong ligaments. All the vertebrae are joined together longitudinally by a great number of very strong, broad tendons, and are everywhere so covered up that because of them the bones can not be seen.

The five pairs of true ribs are joined to the sternum with cartilage. Both the true and the false ribs are all solid and very heavy and thick. The sternum in the upper portion where the ribs are fastened on is cartilaginous; in the lower portion toward the notch of the heart (scrobiculum cordis) it is bony to a distance of a foot and a half.

In place of the innominate bone of the hip there are two bones, one on each side in size and form like the ulna of the human skeleton, and joined with very strong ligaments to the thirty-fifth vertebra on one side and to the os pubis on the other. It has no clavicles. The arms consist of two bones, tarsus and metatarsus.

Description of Its Habits and Nature

I should have abstained from an extended description of this animal if I had not observed that there are in existence some brief and imperfect histories of the manatee, swarming with fables and false theories after the manner of the last century and the century before, in which the writers of natural history saw only through a lattice what they might have seen with their eyes; when investigating the unknown habits of animals, their character, and a thousand other things that have nothing to do with their subject, they only involved the best known facts in more than Cimmerian darkness.

Therefore I have endeavored to give a clear and succinct idea of its external form and that of the structure of its internal parts by stating its agreement and disagreement with others, next by explaining the mechanism and nature of the animal, and after that the use of its parts for food, medicine, and other things, and finally to add in perfect truth what I observed with my own eyes in regard to the movements, nature, and habits of the living animal.

Various things combined to cause me many disappointments. The weather at the time when the animals were captured was almost constantly rainy and cold; my observations had to be made in the daytime; then there were the tides of the sea; and the droves of blue foxes (isatides) would spoil everything with their teeth and steal from under my very hands; they carried away my maps, book, and ink when I was studying the animal and worried me when I was writing; the great size of the animal itself and the bulk of its parts were also a hindrance, as I had to be both observer and workman, as all the rest were anxious about the construction of a ship and our liberation from the island. At my own expense I could hire them for barely an hour at evening time for some of the simpler assistance, and in their ignorance and dislike for the work they would tear everything to pieces, and acted according to their own inclinations; so the injury they wrought and the loss they caused ought to be commended in that they did not desert me entirely. Not a single gut could I get out entire, nor unfold if I had got it out, so as to do anything worth while; so that for all the pleasure I got from certain observations I had twice as much trouble and annoyance in consequence of those useful things which I had to leave alone. So I beg of my kind readers, when they have finished reading this feeble description, that they will judge it by my will and my zeal rather than by the circumstances.

I had prepared a skeleton of a manatee calf, and I had taken the cutis with the cuticle separated from it and stuffed it with grass to bring it home with me; but when I saw that on account of the small size of our craft this was impossible I wanted to bring with me at least the spoils (skin), but even this wish was vain. I intended to do the same with the sea lion, the sea bear and the sea otter, but I was reckoning without my host, for in Kamchatka there is no hope of getting everything. But let me cease from narrating my complaints and my hindrances. The manatee is not the sea cow of Aristotle, for it never comes upon dry land to feed. And it is of little consequence whether it is the same or not, for it is not this animal that he described; indeed, he never saw it and never heard anything about it to tell. In the second place, I remark that Lopez Francisco Hernandes themselves saw the animals, and that Clarissimus Clusius and Ray, misinformed by them, have affirmed many things of the animal that are inconsistent with truth and autopsy.

1. The animal has no hair at all that can properly be called hair. It has bristles rather, or hollow quills, and these are found only around the mouth and under the feet. 2. The head of this animal is not that of a calf, as Cl. Clusius says; not that of an ox, as Hernandes was pleased to describe it; but in the character of its covering it is like no other animal, but has its own peculiar appearance. 3. The feet are entirely without claws, but skin covers them as it does the bone of an amputated limb, so that the animal moves upon a skin that is rough with bristles. 4. As to the fact that Hernandes attributes to this animal nails like those which men have, in order to make it more like the Platonic man, that is equally false, for the animal has no fingers at all any more than nails, unless perchance the hoof of a horse, to which it bears a certain resemblance, impresses anyone as being like a human nail. 5. And so, by the way, it is evident even from this how much obscurity envelops this subject if we start with false premises and arrive at worse conclusions. For instance, all authors with one consent agree that this animal ascends rivers and feeds upon the grass that it may manage to get along the banks, for they may perhaps have heard from the people that it feeds on herbs; but those are not land herbs, but seaweeds.

Nor does the statement have the appearance of truth, that they are in the habit of lying upon the rocks and of coming up on the land, even if I say nothing of the fact that the structure of the animal is totally unfitted for moving on dry land. Indeed, it happened that as the tide went out the waves receded from under one of the animals sound asleep and left him high and dry upon the shore; but he was helpless and unable to get away, a pitiable object, at the mercy of our cudgels and axes. That this animal should be tamed seems more likely than do the anecdotes that are given of its remarkable sagacity, since even the untamable can be tamed through its stupidity and greediness. It happened to me on one unlucky occasion that I could watch the habits and ways of these beasts daily for ten months from the door of my hut, and I will briefly note down the observations that I made with great care.

These animals are fond of shallow sandy places along the seashore, but they like especially to live around the mouths of rivers and creeks, for they love fresh running water, and they always live in herds. They keep the young and the half-grown before them while they feed, but they are careful to surround them on the flank and rear and always to keep them in the middle of the herd. When the tide came in they came up so close to the shore that I often hunted them with my stick or lance, and sometimes even stroked their backs with my hand. If they were badly hurt, they did nothing but withdraw to a distance from the shore, and after a short time they would forget their injury and come back. Most commonly whole families live together in one community, the male with one grown female and their tender little offspring. They appear to me to be monogamous. The young are born at any time of year, but most frequently in autumn, as I judged from the new-born little ones that I saw about that time. From this fact, as I noticed that they copulated by preference in the early spring, I concluded that the foetus remained more than a year in the womb. From the shortness of the [uterine] cornua (ex cornuum brevitate), and from the fact that there are only two mammae, I infer that they have but one calf, and I have never seen more than one with the mother at a time.

These animals are very voracious and eat incessantly, and because they are so greedy they keep their heads always under water, without regard to life and safety. Hence a man in a boat, or swimming naked, can move among them without danger and select at ease the one of the herd he desires to strike — and accomplish it all while they are feeding. When they raise their noses above the water, as they do every four or five minutes, they blow out the air and a little water with a snort such as a horse makes in blowing his nose. As they feed they move first one foot and then the other, as cattle and sheep do when they graze, and thus with a gentle motion half swim and half walk.

Half of the body — the back and sides — projects above the water. While they feed, the gulls are wont to perch upon their backs and to feast upon the vermin that infest their skin, in the same way as crows do upon the lice of hogs and sheep. The manatees do not eat all seaweeds without distinction, but especially (1) Crispum Brassicae Sabaudicae, with cancellate leaf [seacabbage]; (2) that which has the shape of a club; (3) that which has the shape of an ancient Roman shield; (4) a very long seaweed with a wavy ruffle along the stalk. Where they have stopped, even for a day, great heaps of roots and stems are to be seen cast upon the shore by the waves. When their stomachs are full some of them go to sleep flat on their backs, and go out a distance from the shore that they may not be left on the dry sand when the tide goes out. In winter they are often suffocated by the ice that floats about the shore and are cast upon the beach dead. This also happens when they get caught among the rocks and are dashed by the waves violently upon them. In the winter the animals become so thin that, besides the bones of the spine, all the ribs show.

In the spring they come together in the human fashion, and especially about evening in a smooth sea. But before they come together they practice many amorous preludes. The female swims gently to and fro in the water, the male following her. The female eludes him with many twists and turns until she herself, impatient of longer delay, as if tired and under compulsion, throws herself upon her back, when the male, rushing upon her, pays the tribute of his passion, and they rush into each other’s embrace.

Their capture used to be effected with a large iron hook whose point resembled an anchor’s fluke. The other end was secured by a very long, stout rope to an iron ring. A strong man took this hook and entered the boat with four or five others, and while one held the rudder three or four rowed gently toward the herd. The spearman stood in the prow of the boat holding the hook in his hand, and struck as soon as he was near enough. As soon as this was done, thirty men standing on the shore with the other end of the rope in their hands held the animal, and in spite of its frantic efforts at resistance they dragged him laboriously toward the shore. The boat was held steady by another rope, and the men wore the animal out by constant blows, until, tired and rendered thoroughly passive by the spears, it was finished by their knives and other weapons and drawn to land. Great pieces were cut from the animal while still alive, but all that he did was to work his tail vigorously and to brace himself with his fore feet, so that great pieces of skin were often torn off. Besides, he breathed heavily, as with a groan, and the blood from the wounded back spurted up like a fountain. As long as he kept his head under water the blood did not flow out, but as soon as he raised his head to breathe the blood leaped forth anew. This happened because the lungs, being situated at the back, were wounded first, and as often as they were filled with air they increased the force of spurting blood. From this I have concluded that the circulation of the blood in this animal, as in the seal, is in a double fashion — in the open air, through the lungs, but under water, through the foramen ovale and ductus arteriosus, although I did not find both. But I think it happens that they breathe differently from fishes, so that they can better swallow solid food, rather than for the sake of promoting circulation (propter deglutitionem solidorum potiusquam propter cir culationem promovendam).

The full-grown, very large animals are more easily taken than the young ones, because the young move about far more vigorously, and even if a whole hook should be fixed in one of them it can get free by tearing the hook out of the skin. We saw this done more than once. But if one animal is caught with the hook and begins to plunge about rather violently those near him in the herd are thrown into commotion as well and endeavor to assist him. To this end some of them try to upset the boat with their backs, others bear down upon the rope and try to break it, or endeavor to extract the hook from the back of their wounded companion with a blow from their tails, and several times they proved successful.

It is a very curious evidence of their nature and of their conjugal affection that when a female was caught the male, after trying with all his strength, but in vain, to free his captured mate, would follow her quite to the shore, even though we struck him many blows, and that when she was dead he would sometimes come up to her as unexpectedly and as swiftly as an arrow. When we came the next day, early in the morning, to cut up the flesh and take it home, we found the male still waiting near his mate; and I saw this again on the third day when I came alone for the purpose of examining the entrails.

As to voice, the animal is dumb and utters no sound, but only breathes heavily and seems to sigh when wounded. I will not venture to assert how much their eyes and ears are worth. Anyway, they see and hear but little, because they keep their heads under water. At all events, the animal himself seems to neglect and despise the use of these organs.

Of all those who have written about the manatee, no one has given a fuller or more careful account than that most curious and painstaking explorer, Captain Dampier, in his travels, published in English in London in 1702. As I read it I could find no fault with it, although a few statements did not correspond with our animal (It is of course to be remembered that Dampier was speaking of the true manatees Trichechus inunguis and T. latirostris. [1899 note]. For instance, he says that there are two species of manatees, in one of which the eyes are better than the ears, and in the other of which the ears are better than the eyes. What he says about the manner of hunting the animal, namely, that the Americans approach without any noise and without speaking, so as not to frighten the manatee, is no doubt true of places where they are caught in great numbers and have learned by long experience that men are dangerous to them. It was the same way with the otter, seal, and blue fox (Isatis), which lived in this desert island and never saw a man before and never were disturbed while lying at their ease. They were slain with no trouble at all when we first came to Bering Island, but now they have become just as wild as those living in Kamchatka, and take flight at once as they discover, not only with their eyes, but even with their sense of smell, the approach of an enemy.

It sometimes occurred that these animals were cast up dead by storms around the cape called Kronotskoi, as well as about Avatcha Bay. Because of the food they eat they are called by the inhabitants, in their language, “Kapustnik” (Kraut Esser; weed eaters); this I learned after my return in 1742.

Now, I must tell the uses to which the parts of this animal are put. The skins, which are very thick, firm, and tough, are used by the Americans, according to Hernandes, for the soles of shoes and for belts. I understand that the Tschuktschi use the skins for boats; that they stretch it with sticks and use it in the same way as the Koriaks use the skins of the largest sort of seals, called “Lachtak.”

The fat underlies the cuticle and the skin and covers the whole body to the depth of a span, and in some parts is almost 9 inches thick. It is glandulous, stiff, and white, but when exposed to the sun it becomes yellow like May butter (butyri maialis). Its odor and flavor are so agreeable that it can not be compared with the fat of any other sea beast. Indeed, it is by far preferable to that of any other quadruped. Moreover, it can be kept a very long time, even in the hottest weather, without becoming rancid or strong. When tried out it is so sweet and fine flavored that we lost all desire for butter. In flavor it approximates nearly the oil of sweet almonds and can be used for the same purposes as butter. In a lamp it burns clear, without smoke or smell. And, indeed, its use in medicine is not to be despised, for it moves the bowels gently, producing no loss of appetite or nausea, even when drunk from a cup; and, in my opinion, it would do calculous persons more good than the masticatory bones or so-called stones (lapides) of the manatee. The fat of the tail is harder and stiffer and so more delicate when tried out.

The flesh has a grain somewhat tougher and coarser than beef, and is redder than the flesh of land animals; and what is remarkable, even in the hottest days it can be kept in the open air for a very long time without any bad odor, even though all full of worms. I attribute this to the fact that the animal lives entirely upon seaweed and sea plants. These weeds contain a smaller proportion of sulphur and more sea salt and nitre. This salt prevents the loss of sulphur and the softening and decaying of the flesh, preserving it in the same way as salt or brine sprinkled upon meat; but they work even more powerfully, as these salts are more intimately mingled with the substance of the flesh and are combined more permanently with the sulphurous parts (or particles of sulphur?) (cum sulphureis partibus fortius cohaereant). Although the flesh needs to be cooked longer, yet when done it has an excellent taste, not easy to distinguish from that of beef. The fat of the calves resembles fresh lard, so that you can hardly tell the difference; but their flesh is just like veal. When boiled it soon becomes tender, and if the boiling is continued it swells up like young pork so that it takes up twice as much space in the pot as it did before boiling; but the muscles of the abdomen, back, and, sides are far better. The flesh does not really refuse to be salted, as many have thought, but the salt only modifies it, so that it becomes quite like corned beef and very excellent in flavor.

The internal organs — heart, kidneys, and liver — are very tough, and we did not try to do much with them, because we had a great abundance of meat without.

A full-grown animal weighs about 8,000 pounds, or 80 hundredweight, or 200 Russian “pud.” There is so large a number of these animals about this one island that they would suffice to support all the inhabitants of Kamchatka.

The manatee is infested with a peculiar insect something like a louse, which is wont to occupy and inhabit in great numbers especially the wrinkled arms, the udder, the teats, the pudenda, the anus, and the rough hollows of the skin. When they bore through the cuticle and the cutis, here and there wart-like prominences are produced by the lymphatic moisture that exudes. So these insects attract the gulls to perch upon the backs of the animals and hunt this dainty with their sharp beaks, thus rendering the animals, which are worried by the vermin, a friendly and welcome service. These insects are for the most part half an inch long, articulated, six-footed, translucent, white or yellowish. The head is oblong, sharp, larger than a millet seed. In front extend two short, jointed little antennae half a line long. In place of a lower mandible it has two slender, two jointed little arms like a shrimp, very sharp and pointed on the end. Furthermore, in accordance with the number of his feet, he is composed of six articulations, convex on the back, and one-third of a line wide. But the ring of the thorax is twice as wide, and they grow narrower toward the tail. The ring of the thorax resembles the half of a lentil. On the sides of this a pair of thick claws grows, with two joints each. Each claw ends in a flexible point, by means of which it holds fast to the skin of the manatee; the rest of the legs are rather slender, all ending in prickly points, and gradually shorter. The last two are the shortest, and, growing out from the orbicular ring of the tail, form the end of the body itself and steer the insect as it moves.

The American Naturalist, VOL. XXI. No 12. DECEMBER 1887.

THE conclusions in regard to the extermination of the Great Northern Sea-Cow (Rytina gigas) and the causes which led to it, arrived at by the Russian naturalists, Von Baer and Brandt, and by them discussed in numerous publications, were regarded as final, and were generally accepted, until Prof. A. E. Nordenskiold recently made the startling announcement that, during his five days' stay at Bering Island with the " Vega," he discovered incontrovertible evidence that at least one sea-cow had survived the general slaughter, and had been seen alive as late as I854, or more than eighty years after the last one was supposed to have been killed. This statement of Professor Nordenskiold was based upon his interpretation of an account of a strange sea-animal which two Bering islanders claimed to have seen some time previously. Nordenskiold gave no details to speak of, merely asserting that the description of the animal by the natives tallied so completely with Steller's description of the sea-cow as to leave no doubt that they had really seen a living Rytina; but, notwithstanding this meagreness of the account, the weight of Nordenskiold's name was then so great that his assertion would probably have been generally accepted. It was my good fortune to spend a year and a half on Bering Island three years after Nordenskiold's visit, and, as the readers of the "Proceedings of the United States National Museum" (I Vol. vii., I884, pp. I8I-I89.) will know, I succeeded in bringing to light a number of facts which prove conclusively-as I have published even the minutest details, any one can make up his mind as to the weight of the evidence-that the animal seen by the men was not a sea-cow, but that, in all probability, it was a stray female narwhal. To this Nordenskiold has had no other reply than a reprint of his former assertion, without even an attempt to give any further details or to refute my arguments. The only new point in his answer is an effort to throw discredit on the accuracy of Sauer's "Account of Billing's Expedition in the Years 1785 to 1794," in which Sauer expressly states that the last sea-cow was killed at Bering Island in I768, twenty-seven years after the island had been discovered by man.

In a paper published in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society'(1886, No. 4, pp. 317-328.) I have already been able to vindicate Sauer. In the present paper I shall, therefore, only try to demonstrate how easy it is to account for the rapid ex- termination of this huge animal, if we take all the known facts into consideration. To any one familiar with the literature on the subject such an undertaking might be supposed to be superfluous, so well has the task been performed long ago by the great Russian scientists already referred to; but I may perhaps be able to elucidate the subject a little further,-a labor apparently not quite unnecessary, in view of the following remarkable statement of Professor Nordenskiold (Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 1885, p. 281): "It cannot very well be supposed that in a sea so rarely visited in the last century as the northern part of the Pacific Ocean the last specimen of the genus Rytina should have been slain by the harpoon of the hunter. I even imagine that the hardly accessible coasts of Bering and Copper Islands have been very rarely visited by hunters since Steller's day, I74I." As will be seen from the following pages, there was no need of " imagining" anything of the kind, when the facts, as related in the literature, so amply prove the contrary. As everybody knows, Bering and his unfortunate comrades, among them the immortal Steller, in the autumn of I741, discovered the then uninhabited island which afterwards received its name from Bering, who died there shortly after. The survivors of the expedition wintered on that island, and when they landed there they saw the first living sea-cows (Rytina) ever beheld by white men.

Unfortunately, Steller, in describing this animal and its habits, only says that he found it numerous and in herds, without stating exactly how numerous or in how large herds. We are thus left to guess at their probable number when first found; and from what he says in regard to their habits and the places they frequented, and from what I know of the natural conditions of the island, I should regard fifteen hundred as rather above than below the probable number. It must be remembered that the sea-cow was an extremely bulky animal, twenty-four to thirty feet long, which lived chiefly near the mouths of the rivulets, feeding on the sea-weeds, especially the large Lamellarias. There are hardly more than fifteen places on the island which could afford them suitable grazing-grounds, and if each of these were regularly visited by an average of one hundred animals, one would easily be impressed by their number, especially if divided up into five to ten herds of from ten to twenty individuals. There can hardly be any doubt that these animals were the last survivors of a once more numerous and more widely distributed species, which had been spared to that late date because man had not yet reached their last resort. It is, then, pretty safe to assume that this colony was not on the increase, and that, under the most favorable circumstances, the number of surviving young ones barely balanced the number of deaths caused by the dangers of the long winters. Under this supposition, every animal killed by a new agency in this case by man-represents one less in the total number. No sooner did the survivors of Bering's expedition return to Kamtschatka, in I742, than hunting expeditions were fitted out; for Already, in 1743-1744, we find Bassoff and his crew wintering on Bering Island, and from that year and until I763 hardly a winter passed without one or more parties spending eight or nine months in hunting fur-animals there, during which time the crews lived almost exclusively on the meat of the sea-cow. But that is not all, for more than half of the expeditions which win- tered there did so for the express purpose of laying in stores of sea-cow meat for their farther journey, which usually lasted two to three years more. In order to substantiate the above assertion, I shall give a detailed list of the expeditions which are known to have wintered on Bering Island during the twenty years in question. The old records are very defective, and it is extremely probable that many more of the expeditions which left Kamtschatka in order to hunt and trade on the Aleutian Islands and in America stopped at Bering Island, as was the usual custom; but we shall only enumerate those of which the records expressly say that they wintered there. The number of men employed on the vessels is not given in all instances, but, as it varies between thirty and fifty, I have estimated it to be thirty in most cases of which we have no definite record. In the few instances in which the length of time spent on the island is not given I have estmated it to be eight months, which is shorter than the shortest time actually recorded:

It will be seen that there wintered in 1754 to 1755 about one hundred and thirty-three men, and in I762 to I763, ninety men. In addition to the above, we know of a number of expeditions wintering on Copper Island, and many more which passed by the Commander Islands on their way east. Besides, how many were there of which we know nothing? And yet Professor Nordenskiold imagines that these islands " have been very rarely visited by hunters since Steller's day, - 174I"! Some of the records in regard to the above expeditions are very interesting as having a direct bearing on the question before us. Thus, it is said, a' propos of Krassilnikoff's wintering on Bering Island, that "it had already become customary for all vessels intending to hunt sea-otters on the more distant islands to winter there [Bering Island] in order to provide sufficient stores of the meat of the sea-cows (Manati)." These expeditions lasted usually three to four years, and it is safe to assume that they laid in provision for not less than twelve months. Of the expeditions enumerated in the above list, ten, with an aggregate of about four hundred men, belong to this category. Still more valuable are the details which have been recorded in regard to Jakovleff's expedition. He was a mining engineer, consequently a man of education and intelligence, as his reports also testify, sent out by the Russian government in order to investigate the alleged occurrence of native copper on Copper Island. The records show, beyond dispute, that when this island was first visited (1745 to 1746) sea-cows occurred along its beaches (and I myself have found remains of them on that island); but in I754, when Jakovleff was to explore Copper Island, he was obliged to winter on Bering Island, because at that early date, nine years after the first visit, the sea-cows had been extirpated on Copper Island by man!

Including his crew, there wintered that year, on Bering Island, hardly less than one hundred and thirty-three men, one of the chief occupations of whom it was to procure, during eight months, as much sea-cow meat for their future expeditions as they possibly could. This was done regularly by harpooning the animal from a boat manned with eight oarsmen, and when killed it was immediately towed to the shore to be hauled up on the beach and cut up at once, as the meat would spoil if left unattended until the next day. This was the method for securing provisions for the vessels, but a much more wasteful manner was pursued in killing the animals which served as food for the hunters during their sojourn on the island. From Jakovleff's diary we learn that the hunters were scattered all over the northern (i.e., northern and eastern) shore of the island by twos and threes for the sake of catching foxes and other fur-animals, while sea-cow meat was the only food available. (It is even probable that Jakovleff refers to a more or less regular population of hunters, in addition to the crews of the wintering vessels.) These men, in order to obtain food, had to secure their sea-cow single-handed, and whenever they got an opportunity - what they often did - they would sneak up to an animal lying close to the shore or in shallow water, and wound it mortally by thrusting the iron-shod pole into it. The animal, which was hardly ever killed outright, sought the high sea and died there. If it drifted ashore the same day, well and good; but in most cases it came in unfit to be eaten, if it was not carried away altogether. So impressed was Jakovleff with the extreme wastefulness of this method that he predicted the speedy extermination of the sea-cow unless some precautions be taken against this senseless slaughter; and when, in I755, he returned to Kamtschatka, he presented a petition to the authorities there that it be prohibited by an ukas to kill sea-cows in this manner, "in order that Bering Island may not be devastated in the same manner as Copper Island." Of course, nobody heeded this eminently wise suggestion, and the result became as he had predicted it: the last sea-cow was killed within thirteen years.

Can anybody who contemplates the fact that the sea-cow was an exceedingly stationary animal, which was bound to the kelp-fields near shore; that it was extremely stupid and sluggish; that it was deprived of the faculty of diving; and that the island offers absolutely no shelter or concealment for it, - can, anybody, after having read Jakovleff's report and petition, possibly entertain a doubt that the last specimen of the genus Rytina was slain by the harpoon of the hunter?

But let us attempt a calculation, based upon the former guess as to the original number of living sea-cows when Bering Island was first visited, and upon the facts as they have been presented above. Before doing so we will have to estimate the number of animals wastefully slaughtered, and from the statements made by Jakovleff I should think it no exaggeration to say that there were killed five times as many animals as were actually utilized. From Jakovleff's report we learn that one sea-cow would furnish food sufficient for thirty-three men during a whole month, and, although it is probable that he made his party utilize each animal in a higher degree than the other hunters, we shall take the above figures as indicating the average. It will be seen that we do not take into account Burdukovski's statement, that only the kidneys were eaten, for he only had his knowledge from hearsay, while from Jakovleff's diary it seems evident that all the meat was eaten. This is an additional reason why no weight should be attached to the rest of Burdukovski's story.

Now, to supply the six hundred and seventy men which we know wintered on Bering Island between 1743 and I763, during an average time of ten months, it required, in round figures, about two hundred and five animals. According to the same method of calculation, we find that the four hundred men who laid in provisions for protracted journeys would require about two hundred and ninety animals for an average time of twenty- four months,-together, four hundred and ninety-five animals. If five times as many cows were wantonly killed as were utilized, we have a grand total of two thousand four hundred and seventy-five sea-cows slaughtered up to the year 1763, or nearly one thousand in excess of our estimate of the original number. We can therefore either admit that there were more than two thou- sand living sea-cows when Steller discovered them, or else that only twice as many animals were wasted as were properly utilized; but, whatever conclusion we choose, it is manifest that our estimates have been very reasonable.

From 1763 the visits to Bering Island seem to grow scarcer; at least, the records contain nothing definite that I am aware. This is probably due to the very fact that sea-cows had now become so nearly exterminated that the few left were insufficient to maintain any wintering and foraging expedition, while, at the same time, the fur-bearing animals were also so badly decimated that it would not pay for a large party to hunt them. The smaller animals, as we know, would recuperate when left undisturbed for a few years, and it was probably by a party who went out to Bering Island in 1767 or 1768-possibly on one of Popoff's vessels-in order to catch blue foxes that the last sea-cow was mercilessly killed. Four years after, in 1772, Dmitri Bragin again wintered on Bering Island, and, from the fact that in the list he gave of the animals of the island he omitted the sea-cow, it is reasonably safe to conclude that not one was left to be recorded by him.

After all, there is nothing surprising in the speedy extermination of this clumsy animal, which could not dive, and which had actually no means of defence or escape. It is too well known that it did not emigrate, and the theory that it was driven off to other places is not only directly disproved, but is quite unnecessary in order to explain the sudden disappearance of the Great Northern Sea-Cow from the shores where it was first discovered.

I think it will be admitted that we have succeeded in materially strengthening Sauer's assertion, that the Rytina was exterminated in 1768, and that the above is a fair expose of the causes which led to its final extirpation. It was simply due to man's greed, and he accomplished it within the short time of twenty-seven years.

Messybeast Rare & Extinct Creatures

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